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Predicting the Steelers inactive list for Week 2 vs. the Browns

The Pittsburgh Steelers are heading into the second week of the 2023 after a bad loss in Week 1. Now that we are into the second week of the season, the players who could be inactive are a little easier to predict, but injuries are now the driving force behind some of the moves.

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 Monday night, the Steelers have until 4 PM on Monday to make any roster moves or practice squad elevations. If there is any roster move at that time, an update will be added.


Game Status

OUT:

WR Diontae Johnson (hamstring)
RB Anthony McFarland (knee)


Here are the possibilities to end up inactive for the Steelers against the Browns on Monday night:

Definitely:

WR Diontae Johnson– This was known early in the week that Johnson would miss the game. The only question is if he still lands on the Reserve/Injured List (IR) before the deadline to make roster moves.

RB Anthony McFarland– If there was any surprise on the injury report this week, it started with a Anthony McFarland who was not even mentioned before Thursday’s report.


Most Likely:

QB Mason Rudolph– At least they’ll be a special designation for Rudolph that he is the third quarterback and gets to be in uniform. But this isn’t changing anytime soon.

OT Dylan Cook– As expected, Dylan Cook was the inactive lineman last week and I don’t see any reason to change it since Chuks Okorafor is out of the concussion protocol.


Possibly:

WR Dez Fitzpatrick– Coming onto the 53-man roster this week, Fitzpatrick is now the last wide receiver on the depth chart. Do the Steelers really want to carry six into the game?

CB Desmond King– He was the man out last week as the Steelers are still getting King acclimated to everything. The only question that remains is when that point comes in order for him to be active.

CB James Pierre– Once King is ready, somebody from the secondary is going to have to lose a helmet if everyone is healthy. Although he played a lot of special teams, James Pierre did not see the field on defense for the Steelers last week so it could be him.

S Elijah Riley– Take everything I said about James Pierre and apply it to Elijah Riley. The only difference is Riley gives depth of the safety position.


Unlikely:

DT Armon Watts– I only mention the name because he was inactive last week, but with Cam Heyward now on IR there is no way Armon Watts does not get a helmet this week.

WR Gunner Olszewski– No longer the bottom man on the death chart, Gunner O’s ability to get a helmet should be locked in until the return of Diontae Johnson.


Projected Inactive List:

  1. Diontae Johnson
  2. Anthony McFarland
  3. Mason Rudolph
  4. Dylan Cook
  5. Dez Fitzpatrick
  6. Desmond King*

The top four on this list are given. The only way either of the two players who have been ruled out are not on this list is if the Steelers make a roster move to put them on IR. Otherwise they are locked in as well as Rudolph and Cook.

The big question comes down to the last spot. While I think it looks strange to have all offensive players on the inactive list, I don’t see why the Steelers need to have a sixth wide receiver. But at the same time, do the Steelers need 11 defensive backs? If I had to pick between the two I’m putting Dez Fitzpatrick on the list because it would be a good chance to slowly get King some playing time where there’s not a need to have him inactive. But if the Steelers elevate anyone for the practice squad, I think it could be both players. And if it’s not Desmond King because he is ready, then it could be James Pierre.

Personally, I wouldn’t elevate anyone from the practice squad and I would give Desmond King a helmet and use him sparingly. That could possibly give the Steelers some answers going forward better than any other combination. But just because I think it’s a good idea doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.

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

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