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 Week 3 game begins. As usual, I will attempt to project the Steelers inactives for every game of the 2021 season and below is my best guess as to which players won’t be given helmets on Sunday 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 elevate up to two players from their practice squads to their active roster for gamedays. Team’s also can dress up to 48 players for games if 8 offensive linemen are dressed.
DT Carlos Davis – Davis, like was the case in Week 2, was officially ruled out on the Steelers injury report on Friday with a knee injury so he will not be playing on Sunday against the Bengals. He’ll be inactive again in Week 3 and that will make for two consecutive games. The Steelers signed defensive Henry Mondeaux from the team’s practice squad on Monday, so look for him and rookie defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk to both be active on Sunday against the Bengals along with fellow defensive linemen Cameron Heyward, Chris Wormley and Isaiah Buggs.
OLB T.J. Watt – After ending the week listed as questionable on the Steelers Friday injury report with a groin injury, Watt was downgraded to out on Saturday by the team. Watt injured his groin in the first half of the team’s Week 2 game and did not return to the contest. Watt was limited in practice throughout the week but will not be healthy enough to play on Sunday.
OLB Alex Highsmith – Like Watt, a groin injury suffered in Week 2 will prevent Highsmith from playing on Sunday against the Bengals. Highsmith was officially ruled out on the Steelers injury report on Friday after failing to practice all week. With Watt and Highsmith both ruled out for Sunday, the Steelers elevated outside linebacker Derrek Tuszka from the practice squad on Saturday and he should now dress against the Bengals on Sunday as a backup. Melvin Ingram will start at one outside linebacker position on Sunday and opposite him will be Jamir Jones.
WR Diontae Johnson – A knee injury suffered on the last play of the Steelers Week 2 home loss will result in Johnson not playing on Sunday against the Bengals. Johnson failed to practice all week and was ultimately ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Bengals on the team’s Friday injury report. With Johnson not playing on Sunday, backup wide receiver James Washington should see extended playing time against the Bengals whenever three wide receivers are utilized. Fellow wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud could see increased playing time on Sunday as well with Johnson out. The Steelers elevated wide receiver Cody White from the practice squad on Saturday as well.
QB Dwayne Haskins – Haskins, as expected, was once again of the Steelers five inactive players in Week 2. He remains the Steelers third string quarterback behind Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolph this week so he undoubtedly will be inactive again on Sunday against the Bengals, barring any last-minute injury or surprise. Expect Haskins to continue to show up on the Steelers inactive list quite often throughout the 2021 season.
G Rashaad Coward – The Steelers dressed eight offensive linemen once again in Week 2 with guard/center B.J. Finney essentially grabbing the eighth and final spot. They will dress at least eight once again on Sunday against the Bengals and once again, Coward will likely be the odd offensive lineman out. Barring injuries, Coward figures to be a mainstay on the Steelers inactive list throughout most of the rest of the 2021 season.
CB Ahkello Witherspoon – The last Steelers inactive might be Witherspoon and especially with cornerback Joe Haden back following him missing the team’s week 2 game with a groin injury. With only three healthy outside linebackers heading into Sunday on the heels of Tuszka being elevated, inside linebacker Buddy Johnson is likely to dress and help out on special teams.