While the Pittsburgh Steelers are still going to be toying with their roster over the course of the next week heading into Sunday’s season opener against the Cleveland Browns, we do have the nuts and bolts in place of what the team is going to look like a week from now. So with that in mind, I thought I would take an early stab at venturing a guess about what the gameday inactive list is going to look like, assuming full health.
QB Mason Rudolph: While I think there is a bit of a question about who the backup quarterback is going to be right now, the inclination is to go with the more experienced quarterback, and that would be Joshua Dobbs. He has at least gone through a regular season before and knows what to anticipate, even if he hasn’t taken a snap.
WR Justin Hunter: This goes without saying. He is not among the top three wide receivers and the other two wide receivers that also made the team are necessary dresses because of what they offer on special teams. Darrius Heyward-Bey is an essential player in that phase and Ryan Switzer is going to be their return man.
OL Matt Feiler: I’m assuming that Ramon Foster is going to be healthy enough to play when the regular season begins. Otherwise, B.J. Finney will have to start, and Foster’s name will be here instead.
OT Zach Banner: He made it as the ninth lineman, but if the Steelers remain reasonably healthy, he may not dress all season. In fact, his roster spot is surely among the most vulnerable overall. But as long as he remains on the team, he should expect to be watching in street clothes. Something bad probably happened if that is not the case.
DT Daniel McCullers: As nice a story it is that he began to turn his play around this season and was able to salvage his career and make the 53-man roster again in his fifth season…he still offers the least amount of versatility among defensive linemen, and thus probably, though not definitely, will result in him riding the bench most of the year once again.
ILB L.J. Fort: This is probably what makes Fort’s roster spot vulnerable more than anything: it’s going to be difficult to dress him. Tyler Matakevich is the more valuable player on special teams and Matthew Thomas is presumably ascending to the number three role in the group.
S Marcus Allen: You have to find people to take a seat. It seems inevitable that Allen will be one of them, assuming he is even going to be on the roster. He and Jordan Dangerfield may spend a weekly battle competing for a helmet, assuming Morgan Burnett is the player going on injured reserve. If not, then one of them is going to be released and the other just won’t be dressing.
Should the Steelers actually keep four running backs when Le’Veon Bell is activated, then it’s likely that either Stevan Ridley or Jaylen Samuels replaces one of the names on this list (Fort being by far the most likely), but I’m working under the assumption that one of the running backs is released in order to clear Bell’s roster spot.