The Pittsburgh Steelers will play their fourteenth game of the 2017 regular season at home Sunday against the New England Patriots with a chance to improve their record to 12-2 and potentially even secure the No. 1 seed in the AFC throughout the playoffs. 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 afternoon 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 – Dobbs will be inactive again on Sunday. If the Steelers clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC either this weekend or next weekend, perhaps Dobbs will be able to dress for the team’s regular season finale against the Cleveland Browns and potentially backup Landry Jones in that game.
Vance McDonald – McDonald was ruled out on the team’s Friday injury report with a shoulder injury that he suffered in Week 14. This will make the sixth game the tight end has missed this season due to injury and that certainly is a shame. The Steelers offense will miss his blocking ability for starters in addition to his receiving ability.
Matt Feiler – Feiler is now clearly behind tackle Jerald Hawkins on the team’s offensive line depth chart. He hasn’t dressed for a game in several weeks and that’s not likely to change Sunday against the Patriots. Look for him to be on the inactive list again on Sunday.
Daniel McCullers – McCullers hasn’t dressed in several weeks as the five defensive linemen ahead of him on the depth chart are healthy. He shouldn’t be needed again Sunday against the Patriots so expect him to be one of the team’s seven inactive players once again.
Justin Hunter – Will wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster dress and play Sunday after ending the week listed as questionable on the team’s injury report? He was limited all week in practice and that’s never a great sign for a rookie. With that said, I’ll guess that Smith-Schuster will ultimately play against the Patriots based merely on how he’s been acting Saturday on social media. If that happens, there’s a good chance that Hunter will be inactive. Obviously, if Smith-Schuster doesn’t dress, Hunter likely will.
James Harrison – With inside linebacker Tyler Matakevich expected to return this weekend from the shoulder injury he suffered in Week 14, that might allow Arthur Moats to go back to his normal outside linebacker position. If both of those things happen, Harrison might very well find himself back on the inactive list again. With three questionable players on the final injury report this week it makes predicting these seven potentially inactive players incredibly tough. In short, I’m not confident Harrison will be inactive this week.
Joe Haden – While Haden was able to return to practice this week he was listed as a limited participant all three days. He ended the week listed as questionable and said on Friday he’ll be a game time decision on Sunday. I’ll guess that head coach Mike Tomlin sits Haden one more week in an effort to make sure his 100 percent for the playoffs. If Haden does wind up dressing, look for either safety J.J. Wilcox or cornerback Brian Allen to be inactive.