The (8-5) Pittsburgh Steelers will play the (5-7-1) Cincinnati Bengals on the road Sunday and it will be the first of three consecutive games against teams in their own division to close out the 2016 regular season. The Steelers Friday injury report showed that two players will miss the game against the Bengals due to injuries so at least that helps a little when it comes to predicting the team’s seven inactives this week. Here, now, is my weekly attempt at projecting the Steelers seven inactives for Week 15.
Game inactives are officially announced 90 minutes before kickoff, so make sure you check back at that time to see the names of the players for both teams who will be sitting the game out.
Darrius Heyward-Bey – Heyward-Bey was ruled out for the Bengals game on the Friday injury report after once again failing to practice all week. The Steelers veteran wide receiver and special teams players has been sideline since Week 9 with a foot injury.
Shamarko Thomas – Thomas has still yet to overcome the concussion that he suffered a few weeks ago and was officially ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Bengals on Friday. This will be the eighth game that Thomas has missed this season because of an injury.
Zach Mettenberger – Mettenberger will once again be on the Steelers inactive list this week against the Bengals. Barring any injuries to the quarterbacks ahead of him, the LSU product is likely to remain one of the team’s seven weekly inactives for the remainder of the season.
Brian Mihalik – With guard Ramon Foster expected to be back this week after missing last Sunday’s game with a chest injury, Mihalik will likely go back to being inactive once again.
Daryl Richardson – With running back DeAngelo Williams expected to return this weekend from his knee injury, there’s no reason to think Richardson has any shot at being active against the Bengals. In fact, should the Steelers need a roster spot in the coming weeks, Richardson could be the odd man out now that Williams is back healthy.
Xavier Grimble – The Steelers have plenty of tight ends and fullbacks healthy for Sunday’s game against the Bengals and that should result in Grimble being inactive once again. The fact that he’s not yet proven to be a strong special teams player is certainly hurting his cause as well.
L.J. Fort – This last spot I had to think about quite a bit and maybe too much. Do the Steelers really need all 10 linebackers active Sunday? Probably not. At the same time, with Heyward-Bey still sidelined, the Steelers could probably use a fifth wide receiver dressed and especially one that can play in the slot behind Eli Rogers. The Steelers promoted rookie wide receiver Demarcus Ayers from the practice squad this past week and the numbers say he has a good chance of dressing against the Bengals. I think Fort might be the final inactive.