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Predicting the Steelers’ inactive list for Week 1 vs. the 49ers

The Pittsburgh Steelers are heading into the first week of the 2023 regular season to face one of the toughest teams on their schedule. Being the first game of the season, the true nature of the depth chart is not as clear as it will be over time and injuries will be a driving force when it comes to the inactive list every week. For Week 1, the Steelers have one listed as questionable and could go in any direction.

The rules in the 2023 season when it comes to the players active on game day have been carried over from the last three seasons with one additional caveat. As long as a team has eight offensive linemen who will be dressing for the game, they could have 48 players on their active roster rather than the 46 in past years. If the Steelers elevate any players from their practice squad, their inactive list would increase by the same number of players. The one change this season is one quarterback on the inactive list can be designated as the “third quarterback” and will be in uniform, but they can only enter if the other two quarterbacks are injured. The player must be on the 53-man roster and will be designated when the inactive list is released 90 minutes prior to kickoff.

Playing on Sunday, the Steelers have until 4 PM today to make any roster moves or practice squad elevations. If there is any roster move done later today, an update will be added.


Game Status

QUESTIONABLE:

DT Larry Ogunjobi (foot)


Here are the possibilities to end up inactive for the Steelers against the 49ers on Sunday night:

Definitely:

None– no players have been ruled out


Most Likely:

QB Mason Rudolph– Because of the new rules, he’ll be in uniform as a third quarterback. That’s a step up from last season.

OT Dylan Cook– There’s going to be one offensive lineman inactive, and Cook is the least position flexible of the options.


Possibly:

DT Larry Ogunjobi– He’s on the injury report as questionable, so there is at least a chance that Ogunjobi will miss the first game of the season.

DT Isaiah Loudermilk– He was inactive to start last year whenever all the defensive linemen were healthy, so it could be Loudermilk yet again.

DT Armon Watts– If Ogunjobi can go, Armon Watts is the only defensive lineman who is third on the depth chart so it appears that he’s the bottom guy.

RB Anthony McFarland– If it wasn’t for being listed as the primary kick returner, McFarland would be even more likely to land on the inactive list. The only question is if it’s important enough of a position to give him a helmet as the Steelers have Connor Heyward who could be the third RB in a pinch.

WR Gunner Olszewski– I feel like the helmet will either go to McFarland or one of the wide receivers. And for some reason Gunner O. feels like he could be the one.

CB Desmond King– He just joined the Steelers, so Desmond King might not get a helmet until the Steelers feel he’s fully acclimated. Whether he already is or not we will find out on Sunday.

CB James Pierre– Although he brings a lot to special teams, somebody from the secondary is probably not getting a helmet and Pierre is toward the bottom of the depth chart.

S Elijah Riley– Although I think he would be used in the slot, if both Chandon Sullivan and Desmond King are active do the Steelers really need a third player?


Unlikely:

OL Spencer Anderson– The other option to be inactive on the offensive line is Anderson, but he can serve as a backup at many more positions and therefore is likely to get a helmet.

WR Miles Boykin– If the Steelers weren’t going to dress Miles Boykin for his special teams ability, there wasn’t much reason to keep him on the 53-man roster otherwise.

CB Chandon Sullivan– Being listed as the first player at the nickel cornerback position, I feel Sullivan will be in the plans for now depending on how Desmond King comes along.


Projected Inactive List:

  1. Mason Rudolph
  2. Dylan Cook
  3. Larry Ogunjobi
  4. Gunner Olszewski
  5. Desmond King

Rudolph is a slam dunk choice and Dylan Cook I’m extremely confident that he will be inactive. As for the other three positions, it could really go in any direction. I went with Larry Ogunjobi simply because I’m living in my fears and am expecting him to not be available. If Ogunjobi can go, I think it would be Armon Watts simply based on the depth chart.

Between Gunner Olszewski and Anthony McFarland, I would personally go with McFarland to be inactive but I don’t know why the Steelers would list him as the kick returner if this was their plan. That’s why instead I went with Olszewski but I’m actually hoping to see MacFarland‘s name instead.

For the last choice, I’m fairly certain it will be a player from the secondary as the Steelers have a 11 on the roster. I’m just not sure how far along Desmond King is at this time with the closed practices. For this reason, I’m assuming he’s not quite ready and we’ll see how it plays out in the weeks to come.

As always, feel free to list your projected inactives in the comments below.

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