The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Seattle Seahawks Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field 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 2019 season and below is my best guess as to which seven players won’t be given helmets Sunday afternoon against the Seahawks.
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.
Roosevelt Nix – The Steelers fullback suffered a knee injury of some sorts during the team’s regular season opener against the New England Patriots. After failing to practice all week, Nix was listed as out on the Steelers Friday injury report so that means he’ll be on the inactive list on Sunday. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin indicated this past Tuesday that Nix’s knee injury could wind up sidelining the fullback for multiple weeks.
Fred Johnson – With it looking like center Maurkice Pouncey will be able to play Sunday despite suffering an ankle injury in Week 1, Johnson, a rookie undrafted free agent out of Florida, will likely be inactive for a second week in a row. Pouncey ended the week listed as questionable on the team’s Friday injury report but did practice fully on Friday after sitting out Wednesday and Thursday. The Steelers generally dress just seven offensive linemen every week so Johnson figures to be one of the off men out.
Chukwuma Okorafor – Lat week the Steelers chose to dress tackle Zach Banner over Okorafor and that was a bit of a surprise. That marked just the second time that Banner had dressed for a Steelers game since he was signed last year. It will now be interesting to see if Banner and Okorafor are in a two dogs one bone situation weekly moving forward. The Steelers have a third-round draft pick invested in Okorafor so they obviously would like to see him overtake the older Banner sooner rather than later. All that said, for now we must assume that Okorafor is still behind Banner on the tackle depth chart and thus will join Johnson as the second inactive offensive lineman against the Seahawks.
Isaiah Buggs – After being inactive for the Week 1 game against the Patriots, you can expect Buggs to be on the seven-man list again Sunday against the Seahawks. The Steelers usually only dress five defensive linemen every week so with Buggs being the sixth behind Tyson Alualu and Daniel McCullers, there’s no reason to think he’ll be given a helmet Sunday at Heinz Field. Buggs figures to be on this list of seven players most of the season barring injuries.
Jayrone Elliott – The Steelers lost rookie outside linebacker Tuzar Skipper to the New York Giants via waivers this past Monday so that prompted the team to sign Elliott back to the roster. Elliott was with the Steelers during the final few weeks of the preseason, so he was a natural replacement for Skipper on the outside linebacker depth chart. Elliott is essentially the 53rd player on the Steelers roster right now so his stay might not be long as he’ll likely be the first option to release should the team need a roster spot for someone else.
Justin Layne – Cornerback Joe Haden ended the week listed as questionable on the team’s Friday injury report but expects to play Sunday against the Seahawks just the same. Assuming Haden is healthy enough to play on Sunday, Layne will likely be inactive again. The rookie cornerback out of Michigan State was one of the Steelers seven inactive players in week 1 against the Patriots. The Steelers are also expecting to have safety Sean Davis back on Sunday as well and that means Kameron Kelly will go back to being a backup and potentially helping some on special teams.
Zach Gentry – With Nix out on Sunday, there’s only an outside chance that Gentry will dress against the Seahawks. Gentry, the Steelers fifth-round draft pick this year, was inactive against the Patriots and because he’s not much of a special teams asset just yet, he’s likely to be inactive once again on Sunday.