The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Kansas City Chiefs at home on Sunday afternoon, and if you’re like me, you’re counting down the hours until the Week 16 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 afternoon against the Chiefs.
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.
QB Dwayne Haskins – Six weeks ago, Haskins dressed for the first time this season and that was due to starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger being placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list that week. Roethlisberger returned for the Week 12 Sunday night game and remains healthy heading into Week 16, which is the same for backup quarterback Mason Rudolph. Haskins has been back on the inactive list ever since Roethlisberger returned from the COVID-19 list, and he’ll likely remain there on gamedays moving forward for the remainder of the season. Expect him to be inactive again on Sunday against the Chiefs.
ILB Buddy Johnson – After playing a few defensive snaps in the Week 14 Thursday night game, it looked like Johnson might continue to dress in Week 15 as well. Johnson, however, showed up on the Steelers’ Week 15 Friday injury report with a foot injury and was ultimately ruled out for the Sunday contest. This week resulted in Johnson being able to practice some but still ended with him being ruled out again on the Friday injury report. This will make two weeks in a row that the rookie linebacker has missed a game due to his foot injury.
TE Pat Freiermuth – The Steelers rookie tight end suffered a concussion in the second half of the Week 15 Sunday game, and he’s been in the protocol ever since. Freiermuth failed to practice this past week and that led to him being ruled out on the injury report. With Freiermuth missing the Sunday game against the Steelers, look for tight end Zach Gentry to start and for fellow tight end Kevin Rader to get a helmet as well.
DE Chris Wormley – Like Johnson and Freiermuth, Wormley was ruled out for the Steelers week 16 game against the Chiefs on the team’s Friday injury report. Wormley is dealing with a groin injury that he sustained late in the Week 15 home win. That injury prevented him from practicing this past week. Wormley will be inactive for the first time this season on Sunday. With Wormley out for Sunday, look for rookie defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk to start in his place.
P Pressley Harvin III – The Steelers officially ruled out Harvin for the Sunday game against the Chiefs on Saturday due to personal reasons. Harvin’s father passed away on Christmas morning and that’s why the rookie punter did not travel with the team to Kansas City later in the afternoon. With Harvin out, the Steelers added two punters on Saturday. One of those two is likely to be inactive on Sunday against the Chiefs.
P Cameron Nizialek – why did the Steelers add two punters on Saturday? Well, I think it was a pretty smart move by the Steelers and here’s why. One of the two punters added on Saturday, Corliss Waitman, can both punt and kick. So, the addition of Waitman and Nizialek essentially gives the team two punters and two field goal kickers to choose from prior to kickoff as it protects against one of the two punters and kicker Chris Boswell getting COVID before the game. So, barring injuries or a player being lost to COVID in the next several hours, I will predict that Nizialek will be the last inactive.