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Predicting the Steelers inactive list for Week 4 vs. the Texans

The Pittsburgh Steelers are heading into the fourth week of the 2023 season for their first October matchup. Now that we are into the fourth 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.

With the Steelers having until 4 PM on Saturday to make any roster moves or practice squad elevations, the exact number for the list is subject to change. UPDATE: The Steelers announced the elevation of punter Brad Wing.


Game Status

OUT:

G James Daniels (groin)
P Pressley Harvin III (hamstring)


Here are the possibilities to end up inactive for the Steelers against the Texans on Sunday:

Definitely:

G James Daniels– With Daniels missing the start in Week 4, it’s the first time since 2021 where a starter on the Steelers offensive line has missed a game.

P Pressley Harvin III– After having the best game of his career, Harvin has to miss the next contest as he’s nursing a hamstring injury. This will bring a practice squad elevation of Brad Wing unless a different kind of roster move is made.


Most Likely:

QB Mason Rudolph– Is it bad that it’s only Week 4 and I’m running out of stuff to say about Mason Rudolph here?

WR Dez Fitzpatrick– If the Steelers didn’t dress Dez Fitzpatrick last week as a fifth wide receiver, he’s not getting at helmet this week as the sixth.


Possibly:

CB Desmond King– He got the helmet last week as the Steelers went with only four wide receivers, but whether or not they will do that this week remains to be seen. I think it comes down to King or Gunner.

DT Breiden Fehoko– I would love to see Fehoko get a shot, but that’s just not where he is on the depth chart at this time.

DT Isaiah Loudermilk– If Fehoko is going to get a shot at some point outside of an additional injury, it should be at the expense of Loudermilk who is struggling the most of any player on the Steelers defensive line.

RB Godwin Igwebuike– Still somewhat new to the Steelers, I would not be shocked if the Steelers once again elevate Qadree Ollison or a different running back rather than go with Igwebuike.

WR Gunner Olszewski– He’s out of the concussion protocol, but the Steelers showed they didn’t have to have a fifth wide receiver and Desmond King can catch kickoffs in the end zone just as well. As I said above, it really comes down to these two players.


Unlikely:

OT Dylan Cook– After not getting a helmet the first three games, Dylan Cook is set to be the Steelers eighth offensive lineman. The only way this changes is if the Steelers use their practice squad elevations differently and bring up Joey Fisher specifically to have another guard.


Projected Inactive List:

  1. James Daniels
  2. Pressley Harvin III
  3. Mason Rudolph
  4. Dez Fitzpatrick
  5. Breiden Fehoko
  6. Gunner Olszewski
  7. Godwin Igwebuike*

I went with six definite names because I assume Brad Wing will be a practice squad elevation. What could shake up everything is if a player goes on IR or is released from the 53-man roster and the Steelers making another roster move. While I don’t expect it, it is still possible.

James Daniels and Pressley Harvin will be on this list outside of them landing on IR. Mason Rudolph will be on this list outside of a huge shock to make a change unannounced. I fully expect Dez Fitzpatrick to be inactive again based on the explanation given above. And for now, it seems like Fehoko is going to continue to be the odd man out on the defensive line.

The final spot comes down to the 11th defensive back in Desmond King or the fifth wide receiver in Gunner Olszewski. Since either player would then be the kick returner, this one could go either way. Personally, I’d like to see King play against his former team and maybe even get some snaps on the face so he wins the coin flip this time. Plus I doubt he would toe-tap the sideline on a kickoff.

I also included Godwin Igwebuike because the Steelers very well could go with the third running back being a practice squad elevation or a roster move. This will be known after 4 PM on Saturday when Steelers reach the deadline to make any of these moves.

UPDATE: it was announced that the Steelers elevated Brad Wing from the practice squad. It was the only elevation that was announced at the time so it should be assumed it is the only one coming. Therefore there will only be six inactives and Godwin Igwebuike is in the running to be active. But one additional possibility is to only have two running backs and have five wide receivers with Gunner Olszewski while still having Desmond King active. So the sixth spot really comes down to King/Olszewski/Igwebuike.

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

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