Predicting the Steelers inactive list for Week 3 vs. the Raiders
The Pittsburgh Steelers are heading into the third week of the 2023 season and are hitting the road for the first time. Now that we are into the third time doing this 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.
Even with the Steelers having until 4 PM on Saturday to make any roster moves or practice squad elevations, they announced the move I expected in the morning before the team departed for Las Vegas. For this reason, there will be six players on the inactive list.
WR Gunner Olszewski (hamstring)
Here are the possibilities to end up inactive for the Steelers against the Raiders on Sunday night:
WR Gunner Olszewski– He was a healthy scratch in Week 1 and didn’t do himself any favors before he was injured once being active again. Regardless, Gunner O. is still in the concussion protocol.
QB Mason Rudolph– He looks much better on the sidelines being in uniform then when he was in street close. But there’s really no difference to Rudolph’s situation this season.
OT Dylan Cook– Three games in the same offensive linemen have been active. That’s a pretty impressive streak going back through last year for the Steelers, but it doesn’t help Dylan Cook get a helmet.
CB Desmond King– He is 0/2 since joining the Steelers in getting a helmet on game day, so King is still the odds-on favorite from the secondary to land on the inactive list. But perhaps there will be a change in the coming weeks.
CB James Pierre– Yes, he’s a key special teams player. But if Desmond King is going to get a helmet it will probably come at the expense of Pierre who hasn’t played a snap at corner this season.
DT Breiden Fehoko– The likelihood of a defensive tackle being inactive now the Steelers are back to seven is very high. The only question is which one. Fehoko is the bottom guy on the list for now but he could be a viable option.
DT Armon Watts– He was inactive in Week 1, so if the Steelers decide to go to Fehoko then Watts could be the odd man out.
DT Isaiah Loudermilk– If going by on-field performance, especially last week, Loudermilk would arguably be the player to get demoted to the sidelines.
RB Godwin Igwebuike– (Note: this was written before the roster move but I left it in to show the reasoning) While I think the Steelers will go with three running backs much like last week, I’m not convinced that the newly signed Igwebuike will be their choice. Much like what the Steelers did last year with the defensive line, the new addition from another team’s practice squad could be inactive as the Steelers promote someone from their own practice squad instead.
WR Dez Fitzpatrick– He was on the practice squad in Week 1. He was on the 53-man roster but inactive in Week 2. I see Dez Fitzpatrick making the next step in the progression as the Steelers will need a fifth receiver.
Projected Inactive List:
- Gunner Olszewski
- Mason Rudolph
- Dylan Cook
- Desmond King
- Breiden Fehoko
- Godwin Igwebuike
There is always a cutoff line when it comes to the projection between the obvious choices and ones that could go in either direction. The line for now is for the top three names as Gunner Olszewski is ruled out, Mason Rudolph is the third quarterback, and the offensive line is still healthy so Dylan Cook doesn’t need to dress.
I will continue to expect the Steelers to have Desmond King inactive until they finally pull the trigger. I wouldn’t be shocked if it wasn’t until the bye week if it happens at all. When it comes to the defensive line, unless the Steelers decide to go with an extra player there and feel they only need to running backs, I think it’s still Fehoko simply because he would be the bottom of the depth chart. But I admit I would like to see him on the field.
(Note: this was written before the roster move but I left it in to show the reasoning) As for Godwin Igwebuike, I fully expect the Steelers to promote Qadree Ollison again this week and give Igwebuike more time to get acclimated. This isn’t definite, but I could see this move happening as the Steelers have done it before. This is why I listed six players.
As always, feel free to list your projected inactives in the comments below.