The Pittsburgh Steelers will play their 2017 home opener against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday afternoon and if you’re like me, you’re counting down the hours until the game begins. As usual, I will attempt to project the seven inactives for each and every Steelers game of the 2017 season and below is my best guess as to which seven players won’t be given helmets Sunday at Heinz Field.
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.
Joshua Dobbs – Dobbs will likely remain a fixture on the Steelers weekly inactive list as long as fellow quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Landry Jones both stay healthy. Dobbs was inactive for the Steelers Week 1 game against the Cleveland Browns and he should see his name on the seven-man list again on Sunday when it’s turned in 90 minutes before kickoff.
Jerald Hawkins – After failing to practice all week because of a knee injury, Hawkins, the Steelers 2016 fourth-round draft pick out of LSU, was officially ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Vikings on the team’s Friday injury report just as he was in Week 1. Even if Hawkins were fully healthy right now, he would have still likely been inactive for the team’s Week 2 game. As long as the Steelers offensive linemen remain healthy, Hawkins will likely be a weekly inactive list fixture as the team normally only dresses seven in total.
Matt Feiler – While healthy, Feiler is currently buried on the Steelers offensive line depth chart and that means he’s likely to be one of the team’s seven inactive players most of the season. Like Hawkins, Feiler will likely need an injury on the offensive line in order for him to get a helmet on game days.
Justin Hunter – Hunter was inactive for the regular season opener against the Browns and will likely be on that seven-man list once again on Sunday. Hunter doesn’t have any special teams value so as long as the other five wide receivers currently on the team’s 53-man roster remain healthy, he’s unlikely to dress for games.
Stephon Tuitt – Tuitt suffered a left bicep injury two plays into the Steelers Week 1 game against the Browns and did not return. Luckily, his injury wasn’t deemed a season-ender and while Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said earlier in the Week that Tuitt might ultimately be healthy enough to play against the Vikings on Sunday, the general consensus seems to be that he will be given this weekend off so that he can continue to build up strength in his injured left arm. Tuitt ended the week listed as questionable on the Steelers Friday injury report after being limited in practice earlier in the day. Should Tuitt indeed wind up being inactive on Sunday against the Vikings, defensive tackle Daniel McCullers will likely dress in his place and serve as the team’s fifth defensive lineman.
J.J. Wilcox – After suffering a head-to-head hit late in the Steelers Week 1 game against the Browns, Wilcox was placed in concussion protocol by the team on Monday and ultimately failed to practice all week. As of Friday afternoon, the Steelers newly acquired safety was still in protocol and he ended the week listed as questionable on the team’s Friday injury report. With Wilcox being new and failing to practice all week, it’s hard to imagine him playing Sunday against the Vikings. If indeed Wilcox winds up being inactive, it could result in rookie cornerback Brian Allen dressing in his place. Allen, the Steelers fifth-round draft pick this year, was inactive for the team’s Week 1 game. It’s worth noting that the Steelers didn’t promote safety Jacob Hagen from the practice squad on Saturday.
Vance McDonald – The Steelers newest tight end ended the week listed as questionable with a back injury after failing to practice on Thursday and Friday. That’s never a great sign so it’s looking like McDonald might just be inactive on Sunday. If that happens, the Steelers can always use tackle Chris Hubbard as a blocking tight end if the need arises. If McDonald is down, the Steelers will likely dress all 9 linebackers.