The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday 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 Steelers inactives for every game of the 2020 season and below is my best guess as to which players won’t be given helmets Sunday afternoon against the Bengals.
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. Also, the new roster rules make this exercise even harder as team’s can promote up to two players from their practice squads to their active roster on gamedays. Team’s also can dress up to 48 players for games if 8 offensive linemen are dressed.
QB Joshua Dobbs – Dobbs remains the third-string backup quarterback to starter Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolph going into the team’s Week 10 game and that’s not a bit surprising. Roethlisberger coming off the COVID-19 list on Saturday means all that talk about Dobbs possibly dressing in Week 10 was all for naught. Barring any injuries, Dobbs is likely to remain the Steelers third quarterback all season so that means he will likely be listed quite frequently on the team’s game-day inactive list in 2020. Dobbs has already been inactive eight times this season and his ninth time should happen on Sunday against the Bengals.
CB Mike Hilton – The shoulder injury that Hilton suffered back in Week 6 continues to hinder the veteran cornerback. While Hilton was able to practice fully on Wednesday, he was listed as a limited participant on Thursday and Friday and ultimately ended the week listed as questionable on the team’s Week 10 injury report. Hilton’s likely to be a game-time decision on Sunday and I’ll guess that the team decides to go one more week without him. A report on Saturday indicated that Hilton is not expected to play against the Bengals. Should Hilton once again wind up being inactive on Sunday and that will make four games in a row he’s missed with his shoulder injury. With Hilton likely sidelined again, cornerback Cameron Sutton will continue to play a considerable amount of sub package snaps against the Bengals on Sunday.
DT Carlos Davis – The Steelers will get defensive tackle Tyson Alualu back on Sunday against the Bengals that likely means that either Isaiah Buggs or Davis will be the odd man out. Buggs, however, ended the week listed as questionable on the injury report. Davis, on the other hand, has only dressed for one game so far this season and that was last Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. Davis played well last Sunday, but was it good enough for him to get a Sunday helmet over Buggs? If Buggs is healthy enough to play, which I bet he is, he’ll likely get the helmet. Regardless, one of Davis or Buggs will likely be inactive on Sunday against the Bengals.
OLB Jayrone Elliott – The Steelers currently have five healthy outside linebackers on their 53-man roster so one might need to sit on Sunday, and especially if fullback Derek Watt finally gets the green light to return to action from his hamstring injury. If Watt dresses, he can absorb the special rams snaps that Elliott has been logging. Elliott has also not been used on defense, either, as he is behind Olasunkanmi Adeniyi on the depth chart, which makes him fifth of five at the position.
RB Anthony McFarland – The fifth and final inactive is a tough guess. Assuming rookie safety Antoine Brooks Jr. dresses on Sunday following his Saturday promotion, it would make sense for either McFarland or running back Jaylen Samuels, who spent the week on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, to be inactive. McFarland, who missed several practices this week with an illness, does not have any special teams value, so he could easily wind up being the odd man out because he’s a rookie. That’s my guess, but I will not be surprised if Samuels is sat down just the same. It’s likely to be one of the two, however.