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Predicting the Steelers inactive list for Week 5 vs. the Ravens

The Pittsburgh Steelers are heading into the fifth week of the 2023 season for their next AFC North matchup. With the Steelers having so many players already ruled out for Sunday’s game, the choices for players to be inactive are quite small.

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 technically subject to change. But with the Steelers needing both a punter and an eighth offensive lineman, I assume they will be coming in the form of practice squad elevations although other roster moves are possible.


Game Status

OUT:

G James Daniels (groin)
P Pressley Harvin III (hamstring)
OT Dan Moore Jr. (knee)
TE Pat Freiermuth (hamstring)
DE DeMarvin Leal (concussion)

QUESTIONABLE:

OLB Alex Highsmith (groin)


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

Definitely:

G James Daniels– Mike Tomlin seemed hopeful that Daniels would return this week, but he never made it to a practice and he’s out for his second-straight game.

P Pressley Harvin III– Just when Harvin put together two solid games in a row of punting, he misses two games in a row with injury.

OT Dan Moore Jr.– Word is Moore is going to be out longer than just this week, so if any player would go to IR on Saturday he is the most likely candidate.

TE Pat Freiermuth– While there were reports that Freiermuth could also miss several weeks, he was only doubtful on Tuesday which may mean his outlook is slightly better than Dan Moore.

DE DeMarvin Leal– It’s never a good thing when a player in the concussion protocol is limited one day and does not practice the next. It might take through the bye week to get DeMarvin Leal back and out of the protocol.


Most Likely:

QB Mason Rudolph– Even though his name appears on the list, it’s still a pretty decent gig for Mason Rudolph to be able to be dressed on game days.

RB Godwin Igwebuike– Last week the Steelers chose to only go with two running backs. With Connor Heyward able to fill-in in a pinch, this is probably the last spot on the inactive list again this week.


Possibly:

OLB Alex Highsmith– He’s on the injury report as questionable, but Highsmith himself says that he’s playing Sunday. I’m hoping he’s right.

TE Rodney Williams– The Steelers could decide to go light at tight end instead of running back, but I doubt it. This is the only other possibility I could even try to think of other than Igwebuike.


Unlikely:

None– Until I see any other moves that would change the 53-man roster, I don’t have anybody else that I think could potentially land on this list.


Projected Inactive List:

  1. James Daniels
  2. Pressley Harvin III
  3. Dan Moore Jr.
  4. Pat Freiermuth
  5. DeMarvin Leal
  6. Mason Rudolph
  7. Godwin Igwebuike

With five players already on this list outside of somebody going on the Reserve/Injured List (IR), this makes things pretty cut and dry. If Alex Highsmith isn’t going to be able to go on Sunday, the Steelers are going to have to make a roster move. Right now I’m banking on practice squad elevations of Brad Wing and an offensive lineman (come on Joey Fisher!). And with the Steelers only carrying four outside linebackers, as well as the fact a potential reserve at the position would have been DeMarvin Leal who has already been ruled out, if Highsmith can’t go they have to have a third person coming up from the practice squad which would require a move to the 53-man roster. So until I see that actually happening, I’m assuming Highsmith will be available for Sunday.

The only other healthy scratch is very likely Godwin Igwebuike. As I said above, the only other person I think could land on the list would be Rodney Williams. But with Connor Heyward not being a “true tight end“ and Darnell Washington being only in his fifth NFL game, I think it would be unwise to go light at that position.

One player I didn’t even list under the unlikely was nose tackle Breiden Fehoko. Although the Steelers could choose to go light on the defensive line, why would they do that against Baltimore? I don’t even want to entertain that notion and I have Fehoko getting his first helmet in the black and gold.

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

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