The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Cleveland Browns 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 2019 season and below is my best guess as to which seven players won’t be given helmets Sunday at Heinz Field against the Browns.
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.
JuJu Smith-Schuster – While Smith-Schuster was fortunately removed from concussion protocol earlier this week by the team he still failed to practice any due to the left knee injury he’s been dealing with since suffering it in the road loss to the Browns in Week 11. Smith-Schuster was officially ruled out for the Steelers Sunday home game against the Browns on the team’s Friday injury report and thus he’ll be one of the seven inactive players ahead of that contest.
James Conner – Conner ended the week listed as doubtful on the Steelers Friday injury report and that’s not a bit surprising. Conner was only able to practice on a limited basis twice this past week so it’s very unlikely that he’ll be given a helmet Sunday against the Browns. Instead, look for the Steelers to use running backs Benny Snell Jr., Jaylen Samuels and Kerrith Whyte Jr. on Sunday against the Browns with Conner not in uniform on the sideline. This will likely mark the fourth game that Conner has missed this season due to a shoulder injury and the second in a row since aggravating it against the Browns in Week 11.
Paxton Lynch – The Steelers made a switch at starting quarterback this past week as Devlin Hodges is now taking over for Mason Rudolph on Sunday against the Browns. Rudolph, however, is still expected to backup Hodges on Sunday so that means Lynch should be inactive again with him remaining the No. 3 quarterback on the depth chart. Lynch has only dressed for one game this season and that was in Week 6 when he backed up Hodges due to Rudolph being sidelined with a concussion.
Zach Gentry – Gentry hasn’t dressed for many games this season and he’s now not likely to be in uniform for the Sunday game against the Browns. With tight ends Vance McDonald and Nick Vannett both healthy, you can probably look for Gentry to once again be one of the team’s seven inactive players Sunday against the Browns. Gentry has only dressed for three games so far this season.
Chukwuma Okorafor – The Steelers will once again be without suspended center Maurkice Pouncey on Sunday so recently promoted practice squad center Patrick Morris should once again dress in his place. The Steelers normally only dress seven offensive linemen for games and if that’s the case again on Sunday then Okorafor will likely be the odd man out and thus be one of the team’s inactive players.
Tuzar Skipper – The Steelers signed the rookie outside linebacker off the practice squad of the New York Giants over a week ago and the Toledo product then spent his first game back with his original team as an inactive player last Sunday. With outside linebackers Anthony Chickillo and Olasunkanmi Adeniyi both expected to dress and serve as backups on Sunday against the Browns, look for Skipper to once again be one of the team’s seven inactive players.
Artie Burns – This last inactive player is the toughest one to predict due to Burns ending the week listed as questionable on the team’s Friday injury report. Burns started the week as a non-practice participant but ended it on Friday as being listed as a full participant. Will he dress and play Sunday against the Browns despite only practicing fully one day this week? It’s hard to say for sure. Rookie cornerback Justin Layne did play well on special teams last Sunday and maybe that’s enough for him to get the helmet Sunday against the Browns with Burns still not 100 percent. This one could go either way, but I’ll choose Burns to be inactive another Sunday.