The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Cleveland Browns on Sunday night at home in a Super Wild Card Week game 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 night against the Browns at Heinz Field.
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.
RB Anthony McFarland Jr. – The Steelers will likely only dress three running backs and fullback Derek Watt Sunday night against the Browns and that should result in McFarland being inactive once again after dressing and playing some in Week 17 against the Browns. McFarland is not much of a special teams player and that’s another strike against him heading into Sunday night. The three running backs the Steelers are likely to dress Sunday night against the Browns are James Conner, Benny Snell Jr. and Jaylen Samuels.
G Danny Isidora with guard Matt Feiler being activated from the Reserve/Injured list on Saturday, the Steelers now have nine offensive linemen in total. They’ll need to dress eight offensive linemen Sunday night and that should result in Isidora being the odd man out and thus one of the team’s five inactive players. Isidora has yet to play an offensive snap since being signed off the Kansas City Chiefs practice squad several weeks ago.
DE Isaiah Buggs – In the Steelers Week 17 game last Sunday against the Browns, both Buggs and rookie defensive tackle Carlos Davis dressed and played because defensive tackle Cameron Heyward was held out of the contest to rest up for the playoffs. Heyward is of course back this week and that means that either Buggs or Davis will likely be inactive Sunday night. Davis has been dressing over Buggs recently and I expect that to continue Sunday night against the Browns. Additionally, Buggs did miss Thursdays practice this week with an illness and that’s not likely to help his cause in getting a gameday helmet.
OLB Jayrone Elliott – The Steelers got outside linebacker Cassius Marsh back this week from the Reserve/COVID-19 list after he missed the team’s Week 17 game. With Marsh back, the Steelers have five outside linebackers and that means there’s a good chance one of them sits. Marsh is a better special teams player than Elliott is so I will guess the new outside linebacker dresses and that Elliott draws the short straw and thus fails to get a helmet Sunday night.
S Antoine Brooks Jr. – The Steelers elevated tight end Kevin Rader from the practice squad on Saturday and that means he’ll likely dress on Sunday against the Browns. Rader also will play on special teams. The elevation of Rader will likely result in rookie safety Antoine Brooks Jr. not dressing against the Browns Sunday night.
QB Joshua Dobbs – I have toyed all week with the idea that the Steelers could dress their third-stringer Dobbs against the Browns and use him a couple of plays like they did in Week 17 when starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sat out to rest and backup Mason Rudolph started in his place. However, when it comes down to it, I don’t think the Steelers will dress Dobbs as it’s just not their usual MO to have three quarterbacks in uniform for a game. The Steelers did a good job all week of having people guess if Dobbs will dress and play on Sunday. That probably forced the Browns to dedicate some preparation time this week to defending Dobbs Sunday night should he play some snaps.