The Pittsburgh Steelers will play their eleventh game of the 2017 regular season at home Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers with a chance to improve their record to 9-2 and remain the No. 1 seed in the AFC. 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 night at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.
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 – Nothing new to see here. Dobbs hasn’t been active for a game this season and that’s not going to change Sunday night at Heinz Field. The Steelers will have five regular season games remaining after Sunday night and Dobbs’ needs to hope the finale against the Cleveland Browns is a meaningless contest if he wants a chance at dressing this season. That, of course, assumes that starter Ben Roethlisberger and backup Landry Jones both remain healthy in the meantime.
Jerald Hawkins – Hawkins has still yet to dress for a game this season and even though starting right tackle Marcus Gilbert has been suspended for the teams next four games doesn’t mean the status of the former fourth-round draft pick is going to change. With Gilbert out, tackle Matt Feiler will likely be the one to dress in his place.
JuJu Smith-Schuster – The Steelers rookie wide receiver was ruled out for the Sunday night game with a hamstring injury on the team’s Friday injury report after failing to practice all week. Head coach Mike Tomlin hinted this past Tuesday that Smith-Schuster might be limited in practice this week because of his injury that he must have suffered in the team’s Week 11 home win over the Tennessee Titans. This will mark the first game this season that Smith-Schuster has missed and him being down Sunday night will likely result in fellow wide receiver Justin Hunter dressing and getting a helmet.
Joe Haden – Haden, who suffered a fractured fibula in the team’s Week 10 win over the Indianapolis Colts, will miss his second game of the season Sunday night. Its still unclear as to exactly when Haden will be healthy enough to resume playing but he did post a video of himself riding a stationary bike this past week on his social media account. With Haden out again, cornerback Coty Sensabaugh is expected to start in his place again on the left side.
Vance McDonald – An ankle that McDonald suffered during the teams game against the Colts will once again force McDonald to be inactive. McDonald, who failed to practice again this past week, was officially ruled out for the Sunday night game against the Packers on the team’s Friday injury report. With McDonald out again, backup tight end Xavier Grimble will likely play a handful of snaps.
Mike Mitchell – After practicing fully on Wednesday, Mitchell then proceeded to be limited on both Thursday and Friday and thus ended the week listed as questionable on the team’s final injury report. The fact that he went backwards easily leads one to believe that he might ultimately miss the game Sunday night with his ankle injury. Mitchell injured his ankle against the Colts and missed the Week 11 game against the Titans. Should he ultimately sit out Sunday night it will mark the third game he’s missed this season due to an injury. He had yet to miss a game with the Steelers until this season.
James Harrison – I really am not sure which way this final inactive will go Sunday night. It could be Harrison, defensive tackle Daniel McCullers or rookie cornerback Cameron Sutton. Besides, all of this assumes that all of my other six guesses are correct. Being as I’m unsure, I will go with the player I would choose to be the seventh inactive and that’s Harrison. He doesn’t play special teams and remains the team’s fifth outside linebacker. On top of everything else, he hasn’t played in a game in several, several weeks and hasn’t even broken the 30 snap barrier this season. Why dress him if he’s only likely to play nine defensive snaps at the most? If, however, Harrison is allowed to dress, I think Sutton might be the seventh inactive. We’ll find out for sure a little more than 24 hours from now.