The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday night on the road, and if you’re like me, you’re counting down the hours until the Week 11 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 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. Also, the new roster rules make this exercise even harder as teams can elevate up to two players from their practice squads to their active roster for gamedays. Teams also can dress up to 48 players for games if eight offensive linemen are dressed.
OLB T.J. Watt – Watt was ruled out for the Sunday night game against the Lions due to an injured hip and knee. Those injuries were sustained during the team’s Week 10 tie and they prevented Watt from practicing all week. This will make the second game this season that Watt has missed due to injury as he also missed the team’s Week 3 game with a groin issue. With Watt sidelined on Sunday, the Steelers will likely start outside linebacker Taco Charlton opposite fellow outside linebacker Alex Highsmith. Outside linebacker Derrek Tuszka will also see quite a few snaps on defense against the Chargers as well. The team elevated outside linebacker Delontae Scott on Saturday as well.
CB Joe Haden – Haden was ruled out for the Sunday night game against the Lions due to a foot injury that he suffered last Sunday in the team’s home tie. Haden failed to practice all week and the hope is that maybe he’ll be back in Week 12 after missing just one game. This will mark the first game this season. The Steelers will likely start cornerback James Pierre in place of Haden on Sunday night. Haden being inactive will likely result in fellow cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon getting a helmet against the Chargers. He hasn’t been active for a game since Week 2.
DE Isaiahh Loudermilk – A groin injury will keep Loudermilk out of the team’s Sunday night game against the Chargers. He surfaced on the Steelers injury report on Thursday and then proceeded to not practice on Friday. This will mark the second time this season that Loudermilk will be inactive for a game as he was a healthy scratch back in Week 1. The Steelers elevated defensive lineman Daniel Archibong from the practice squad on Saturday he should dress on Sunday night against the Chargers.
QB Dwayne Haskins – Last week, Haskins dressed for the first time this season and that was due to starring quarterback Ben Roethlisberger being placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday night. Roethlisberger is expected to be back for the Sunday night game against the Chargers and if indeed that’s the case, it’s likely back to the inactive list for Haskins as fellow quarterback Mason Rudolph is expected to serve as the Sunday night backup to Roethlisberger.
ILB Buddy Johnson – Johnson dressed for the Steelers’ first three games of the regular season due to injuries at various positions and he has not dressed for a game since. Johnson figures to once again be on the inactive list again Sunday night against the Chargers. The Steelers have been dressing inside linebackers Devin Bush, Joe Schobert, Robert Spillane, Marcus Allen and Ulysees Gilbert III the last several weeks, and that should continue Sunday night in California.
RB Anthony McFarland Jr. – The Steelers again made McFarland inactive in Week and he now hasn’t dressed since Week 8. Instead of giving McFarland a helmet, the team has been giving it to fellow running back Kalen Ballage. Because of what has happened with McFarland the last two games, it’s hard to envision the second-year running back being allowed to dress over Ballage on Sunday night against the Chargers. McFarland doesn’t play on special teams, and that’s another thing that hurts his cause. The Steelers are bound to have one inactive running back on Sunday night, and that running back is unlikely to be Benny Snell Jr. In short, it will likely either be McFarland or Ballage, and this week, my money is on the former after having it incorrectly on the latter in Week 9.