The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Minnesota Vikings on the road Thursday night, and if you’re like me, you’re counting down the hours until the Week 14 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 Thursday night against the Vikings.
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 – Four weeks ago, 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 that week. Roethlisberger returned for the Week 12 Sunday night game and remains healthy heading into Week 14, 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.
CB Joe Haden – The Steelers listed Haden as out on the team’s injury report on Wednesday after he failed to practice all week and that now means he’ll miss a fourth consecutive game with a foot injury that he originally suffered in Week 10. With Haden ruled out again, backup cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon will likely dress in his place and even start Thursday night against the Vikings. Witherspoon started in place of Haden in Week 13.
DT Isaiah Buggs – After being a healthy scratch inactive in Week 12, Buggs was an injury scratch in Week 13 with an ankle injury. after failing to practice this week, Buggs was ruled out for the Thursday night game against the Vikings on the Wednesday injury report. With Buggs now out for Thursday night, newcomer defensive tackle Montravius Adams is sure to dress again and potentially even start like he did in Week 13.
G/C B.J. Finney – Finney left the Week 13 game in the first quarter and never returned. He failed to practice this week and thus was ruled out for the Thursday night game on the Wednesday injury report. The Steelers elevated two offensive linemen from their practice squad to the Active/Inactive roster earlier in the day and those two players, tackle Chaz Green and guard Rashaad Coward, should dress Thursday night against the Vikings so that the team can have eight total offensive linemen in uniform. With Finney out, John Leglue is expected to make his first career start Thursday night.
ILB Robert Spillane – Spillane, who was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list earlier in the week, failed to practice these last few days due to a knee injury he sustained back in Week 12. Spillane was ruled out for the Thursday night game against the Vikings on the team’s Wednesday injury report and thus he’ll be on the pregame inactive list. With Spillane out, look for rookie inside linebacker Buddy Johnson to once again dress in his place.
RB Anthony McFarland Jr. – In Week 13, the Steelers chose to dress tight end Kevin Rader over McFarland and that may have been because the team had wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud back from the Reserve/COVID-19 list. With this being a short week, we could see a repeat of that decision on Thursday night against the Vikings. It certainly seems as if though this particular inactive spot decision comes down to either McFarland or Rader with the latter being the better asset on special teams.
DT Carlos Davis – The Steelers activated Davis from the Reserve/Injured list last Saturday. Even so, he still wound up on the Week 13 inactive list as defensive tackle Henry Mondeaux seemingly dressed ahead of him. With this being a short week for the Steelers, there’s a very good chance that Mondeaux will once again dress over Davis against the Vikings on Thursday night. The Steelers figure to dress just five defensive lineman against the Vikings with those players likely to be Cameron Heyward, Chris Wormley, Isaiahh Loudermilk, Adams and Mondeaux.