The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday afternoon on the road 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 every Steelers game of the 2018 season and below is my best guess as to which seven players won’t be given helmets Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.
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.
Mason Rudolph – Rudolph has been on the Steelers inactive list the first five games of the 2018 regular season and the rookie third-round draft pick is expected to be on it again Sunday afternoon against the Bengals. As has been the case in the first five games, Joshua Dobbs will likely serve as the backup to starter Ben Roethlisberger against Cincinnati. Rudolph can look forward to getting more reps during practices next week as the Steelers will be on their bye which means some arm rest for Roethlisberger. Even so, it’s doubtful Rudolph will pass Dobbs on the quarterback depth chart during the bye week.
Morgan Burnett – Burnett ended the week listed as out on the Steelers official injury report after he failed to practice all week. The veteran safety has been dealing with a groin injury that has forced him to miss the team’s last three games in addition to some preseason and training camp time. Burnett will be inactive once again on Sunday afternoon against the Bengals and that means rookie safety Terrell Edmunds is likely to start once again in his place. with the Steelers bye week upcoming, perhaps Burnett will be ready to resume playing again in Week 8.
Darrius Heyward-Bey – Like Burnett, Heyward-Bey failed to practice all week and it culminated with him being listed as out on the team’s Friday injury report. Heyward-Bey suffered his ankle injury while attempting to block a punt during the team’s Week 4 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. With Heyward-Bey on Sunday’s inactive list against the Bengals you can expect to see fellow wide receiver Justin Hunter dress in his place once again just as he did last Sunday. Hunter played all of two offensive snaps in Week 5 against the Atlanta Falcons.
L.J. Fort – An ankle injury suffered during the team’s game last Sunday against the Falcons resulted in Fort being unable to practice any this week. Because of that missed practice time he was listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Bengals on the Friday injury report. Barring a huge healing process in the next 24 hours, Fort will likely be inactive Sunday afternoon in Cincinnati and he’ll essentially fill the spot that fellow inside linebacker Vince Williams assumed a week ago. Williams is expected to return to action against the Bengals on Sunday after sitting out last week’s game with a hamstring injury.
L.T. Walton – Walton has only dressed for one game so far this season and that was only because fellow Steelers defensive lineman Tyson Alualu missed a contest with a shoulder injury. Currently, there’s no reason to think that defensive tackle Daniel McCullers won’t continue to get a game day helmet and if that’s indeed the case again on Sunday in Cincinnati, Walton will be inactive once again.
Zach Banner – The Steelers entire offensive line is thankfully back healthy again as of a few weeks ago. In short, Banner can expect to be inactive for the fifth time this season Sunday against the Bengals. Banner has only dressed one time so far this season and that was when two starting offensive linemen were inactive because of injuries a few weekends ago.
Marcus Allen – Even though the Steelers have been down to just four healthy safeties the last few weeks they’ve still decided against dressing rookie safety Marcus Allen for games for whatever reason. Instead, they have been curiously going with just three healthy safeties for games and letting backup offensive lineman Matt Feiler dress as an eighth player at his position group. Currently, there is no reason to think that Allen will get a helmet Sunday against the Bengals even though the rookie Edmunds dealt with an injured calf this past week.