The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the New England Patriots Sunday afternoon 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 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.
Mason Rudolph – Rudolph has still yet to dress for a game so far this season as the rookie third-round draft pick remains at the bottom of the quarterback depth chart behind second-year signal caller Joshua Dobbs. Barring an injury to either Dobbs or starter Ben Roethlisberger, Rudolph is now likely to spend his entire rookie season on the team’s inactive list as it seems like the team’s regular season finale will be a meaningful game. Look for Rudolph to once again be one of the Steelers seven inactive players Sunday against the Patriots as Dobbs once again backs up Roethlisberger.
James Conner – An ankle injury suffered late in the Steelers Week 13 Sunday night home loss to the Los Angeles Chargers will now result in Conner missing a second-consecutive game. While Conner entered Saturday listed as questionable on the Steelers injury report, he has since been downgraded to doubtful and that’s not overly surprising. With Conner now likely to be sidelined once again, backup running backs Jaylen Samuels and Stevan Ridley are expected to split the work in the Steelers backfield against the Patriots. Additionally, the Steelers recently promoted running back Trey Edmunds is likely to dress again on Sunday against the Patriots and help some on special teams.
Zach Banner – Banner will likely remain on the team’s inactive list Sunday against the Patriots as he’s only dressed for one game so far this season. The Steelers placed tackle Marcus Gilbert on the team’s Reserve/Injured list on Saturday and so Banner is now likely to be the only offensive lineman listed on the team’s Sunday inactive list.
L.T. Walton – Walton has dressed for just a few games this season due to injuries suffered by other defensive linemen. The team should not need Walton again on Sunday against the Patriots as the five defensive linemen ahead of him on the team’s depth chart are all healthy. Barring more injuries, Walton might not dress for another game this season.
Marcus Allen – After making his NFL debut a few weekends ago, Allen returned to the Steelers inactive list last Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. In all likelihood, he’ll be inactive again Sunday against the Patriots as the four safeties ahead of him on the depth chart are all healthy.
Olasunkanmi Adeniyi – With outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo over his ankle injury last Sunday, Adeniyi found himself on the Steelers seven man inactive list ahead of the team’s game against the Raiders. By the looks of things after counting up the numbers, Adeniyi is likely to be inactive again on Sunday against the Patriots as cornerback Brian Allen might once again dress over him to help out on special teams.
James Washington – This last inactive is tough to decipher now that the Steelers have promoted wide receiver Eli Rogers from the Reserve/PUP list to the 53-man roster. That transaction, along with wide receiver Ryan Switzer ending Friday as questionable with an ankle injury, also makes this final guess tough. Is Switzer healthy enough to play? The Steelers did not downgrade him on Saturday like they did Conner so that’s a great sign. The Steelers also tend to dress players who end the week listed as questionable more than they don’t. I’m going to guess that Switzer plays and we already know that Rogers will likely dress as well. If both Switzer and Rogers get helmets, Washington might find himself on the inactive list for a third time this season. Obviously, if Switzer isn’t healthy enough to play on Sunday, he’ll be on the inactive list and Washington should get the helmet.