The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Cleveland Browns on Monday night and it is their second 2023 regular-season game. 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 2023 season. Below is my best guess as to which players won’t be given helmets against the Browns.
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 newer 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. The emergency quarterback rule is also back in place for the 2023 season.
QB Mason Rudolph – (Emergency 3rd) – The Steelers obviously have Rudolph back again in 2023 and as expected, he was the team’s inactive emergency third quarterback for the week One home game. With no injuries to the other quarterbacks on the roster, Kenny Pickett and Mitch Trubisky, we can once again expect to see Rudolph on the Steelers’ pregame inactive list ahead of kickoff. Last season, Rudolph dressed for only one game, the one that Pickett sat out because of a concussion. While Rudolph should be on the Monday inactive list, he will dress and be ready to play in case of an emergency against the Browns. The NFL brought back the emergency inactive quarterback rule this past offseason.
T Dylan Cook – The Steelers should once again dress eight of their nine offensive linemen on Monday night. The top seven should once again be Mason Cole, James Daniels, Isaac Seumalo, Chukwuma Okorafor, Dan Moore Jr., Nate Herbig, and rookie Broderick Jones. While Okorafor and Seumalo were both on the injury report this past week, neither received a game status designation on the Saturday offering. That means both should be good to go Monday night against the Browns. That leaves rookie Spencer Anderson and Cook once again to choose from when it comes to which one dresses and which one doesn’t. Anderson dressed over Cook in Week One, likely due to him having slightly more position flexibility. A repeat of that decision figures to happen Monday night so expect Cook to once again be on the inactive list.
WR Dez Fitzpatrick – The Steelers signed Fitzpatrick to their 53-man roster this past week to fill the open spot created by DT Cameron Heyward being placed on the Reserve/Injured list. Fitzpatrick’s addition, combined with Johnson being sidelined and being placed on the Reserve/Injured list on Monday, gives the Steelers six healthy wide receivers heading into Monday night. Even so, one of those six is likely to be inactive. The decision is likely to come down to a choice between Fitzpatrick and Miles Boykin. Both can play on special teams and specifically at gunner. Boykin has been playing that role longer with the Steelers so I will give him the nod over Fitzpatrick. There is a way that both Boykin and Fitzpatrick can both dress Monday night but if that happens, it would likely result in CB James Pierre being inactive as one of two cornerbacks on the list. I’m interested to see what the final decision is.
CB Desmond King II – The Steelers opened their 2023 regular season with 11 total defensive backs on their 53-man roster and that resulted in just 10 of them dressing in Week One. King was the odd man out and inactive in Week One. Because there are still 11 defensive backs on the roster, one of them is likely to be inactive on Monday night against the Browns. The newest member of the 11 is King, who was signed to the team on the last day of August. While King is very NFL-experienced, he still might be attempting to jump on the moving train, so to speak. Several of the other backup defensive backs are very special teams capable and that should allow those players to dress against the Browns. Honestly, the decision as to which of the 11 winds up being inactive on Monday night will likely come down to Chandon Sullivan and King, just like last week. I will once again guess that Sullivan gets a helmet on Monday night. King is the better player against the run, however, so it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise if he gets the helmet over Sullivan. We’ll see.