The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday night at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, CA 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 night against the Chargers.
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 – Sunday will mark the fifth consecutive game that Nix has missed due to the knee injury he suffered in Week 1 in the loss to the New England Patriots. Nix once again failed to practice any this past week and was ruled out for the Sunday night game against the Chargers on the Friday injury report.
Mason Rudolph – The Steelers quarterback suffered a concussion in the third quarter of the Week 5 home game against the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday and while he did practice on a limited basis on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, he was reportedly limited in his participation and only ran the scout team. Rudolph was officially ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Chargers on the Friday injury report and the team promoted quarterback Paxton Lynch from the practice squad to be the backup to quarterback Devlin Hodges Sunday night against the Chargers.
Jaylen Samuels – The Steelers backup running back required a Monday knee scope to fix an issue after suffering an injury during the team’s Sunday Week 5 home road loss to the Ravens. Samuels was not mentioned as being injured immediately after the loss but by Tuesday he had been ruled out by head coach Mike Tomlin for roughly the next month. With Samuels now sidelined, rookie running back Benny Snell Jr. will be the backup to James Conner. The Steelers also signed running back Trey Edmunds off their practice squad on Friday to add depth at the position and to provide the team another core special teams player.
James Washington – The Steelers second-year wide receiver suffered an AC shoulder injury during the third quarter of the Week 5 Sunday home loss to the Ravens and failed to return to the game. By Tuesday, it was being reported that Washington’s injury will sideline him a few weeks and after not practicing this past week the team officially ruled him out on their Friday injury report. This will mark the first game this season that Washington has missed due to injury. Washington’s injury should allow veteran wide receiver Donte Moncrief a chance to dress and play Sunday night against the Chargers.
Mark Barron – A hamstring injury suffered during the first half of last Sunday’s home game loss to the Ravens will result in Barron missing his first game of the regular season. With Barron out, the Steelers will play veteran inside linebacker Vince Williams alongside rookie inside linebacker Devin Bush in the team’s base defense. Williams just returned last Sunday from a hamstring injury that forced him to miss a few games.
Steven Nelson – Last weekend against the Ravens, Nelson apparently suffered a groin injury that resulted in him being limited in all three practices this past week. While Nelson said earlier in the week that he expected to play Sunday night against the Chargers, he ultimately ended the week listed as questionable on the team’s Friday injury report. After failing to make the trip with the team to Los Angeles Saturday morning, Nelson was downgraded to out on the Week 6 injury report. Fellow cornerback Artie Burns is expected to start in place of Nelson Sunday night against the Chargers. Rookie cornerback Justin Layne is also expected to dress again Sunday night with Nelson sidelined.
Isaiah Buggs – With six easy inactive choices out of the way, the seventh one is a bit of a guessing game. It likely comes down to three players in Buggs, tight end Zach Gentry and tackle Chukwuma Okorafor. With Steelers tight end Vance McDonald still not completely over the shoulder injury he suffered a few weeks ago, the Steelers might decide to dress Gentry. Additionally, the Steelers might decide to dress Okorafor on Sunday just to have an extra offensive line body as depth. Okorafor can also be used as an extra blocker should the need arise. Buggs, who has yet to dress for a game this season, seems like he might be the choice to be the seventh and final inactive Sunday night purely from a deductive reasoning standpoint.