The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Carolina Panthers Thursday night at home 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 Thursday 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.
Mason Rudolph – The status of Rudolph hasn’t changed all season as the rookie third round draft pick out of Oklahoma State remains the No. 3 quarterback on the depth chart behind Ben Roethlisberger and Joshua Dobbs. With Dobbs making a big play with his arm early in the fourth quarter of the Steelers Sunday road game against the Baltimore Ravens with Roethlisberger sidelined for one play with the wind knocked out of him, it’s easy to speculate he’ll now remain the No. 2 the remainder of the 2018 season. Barring an injury or Roethlisberger sitting out a game to rest for the playoffs, Rudolph is likely to remain on the team’s weekly inactive list the remainder of the season.
Marcus Gilbert – Gilbert ended the week listed as out on the Steelers official injury report after he failed to practice on Tuesday and Wednesday because of a knee injury that has been bothering him for several weeks. Thursday night will mark the third consecutive game that Gilbert has missed with his knee injury and now we’ll wait and see if he’ll be ready to return to the field after the team’s upcoming mini bye week. With Gilbert sidelined again Thursday night against the Panthers we should see backup offensive lineman Matt Feiler start in his place at right tackle once again.
Daniel McCullers – An ankle injury suffered last Sunday against the Ravens will prevent McCullers from playing Thursday night against the Panthers. The Steelers officially ruled McCullers out for the Thursday night game on their Wednesday injury report and that means he’ll be one of the team’s seven inactive players. With McCullers now set to miss his first game of 2018, you can look for backup defensive lineman L.T. Walton to dress in his place Thursday night. Walton previously dressed for just one other game this season and that was only because fellow Steelers defensive lineman Tyson Alualu missed a contest with a shoulder injury.
Zach Banner – With Gilbert out again this week and Feiler expected to start in his place again at right tackle, you can expect to see Banner on the team’s pregame inactive list Thursday night. The Steelers generally only dress seven offensive linemen in total for games so that will result in Banner being the odd one out again. Banner has dressed for just one game so far this season and that was back in Week 3.
Marcus Allen – Allen has yet to dress for a game this season and that’s not likely to change Thursday night against the Panthers. The Steelers are currently very healthy at the safety position and that means the Penn State product and 2018 fifth-round selection won’t dress for a ninth consecutive game.
Brian Allen – On a short week and with all the cornerbacks ahead of him on the depth chart healthy, this Allen can also expect to once again be on the Steelers inactive list Thursday night. since being promoted to the 53-man roster from the practice squad in Week 5, Allen has only dressed for two games and none since the bye week.
Justin Hunter – The Steelers will likely have one wide receiver on their seven-player inactive list Thursday night and it will likely be either Hunter or rookie James Washington. Last Sunday against the Ravens, Washington returned to the field after his Week 8 benching and caught two passes for 17 yards. Hunter, on the other hand, was inactive for that game. The Steelers are expected to run a lot of no-huddle Thursday night against the Panthers which could result in Hunter being chosen to dress over the more inexperienced Washington. In summation, don’t be surprised if Washington winds up inactive for the second time this season Thursday night. For my prediction, however, I will guess that Hunter winds up on the list of seven players once again.