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Actively Predicting the Inactive List: Week 2

For Week 2, the injury news has been pretty active. The biggest news was Stephon Tuitt and his bicep injury. Fortunately he dodged the bullet for a severe injury, so he is on the 1-3 week recovery road for that type of injury. Tuitt didn’t practice this week, and doesn’t look good to play this Sunday. If he doesn’t play, Dan McCullers should earn a hat this week as the extra DL.

JJ Wilcox was injured on that goal line hit that also earned him a $25k fine (pending appeal). He is in concussion protocol, and practiced partially on Friday. Players in concussion protocol must practice fully, and be symptom free the following day, to be cleared to play. It doesn’t look good for JJ playing this week since he didn’t practice fully.

Sean Davis and Vance McDonald both had setbacks on Thursday. Good news is Davis practiced fully on Fri, and was left off of the game’s injury report, so he should start. McDonald was limited Friday, but is still trending up, and could possibly be ready for Sunday. Vance will be the toughest call to project this week.

The best news is Bud Dupree is trending up! He was limited Wed and Thu, but practiced fully Fri, so that, paired with him not being listed on the injury report, means he will play on Sunday. That is bad news for Arthur Moats though, as he will probably be the inactive linebacker for the game.

I continually update the Injury/Suspension/Inactive spreadsheet, and have now added fines to the bottom of it. Bookmark it to track the status of the Steelers each week.

There will be 7 inactive players for the game this week. I believe they will be:

1. Jerald Hawkins: Didn’t practice this week and is already listed as out.

2. Josh Dobbs: Healthy Scratch/ 3rd QB

3. Stephon Tuitt: He didn’t practice all week, so my bet is he won’t be active

4. JJ Wilcox: He is still in concussion protocol, and hasn’t met the qualification of clearing a full practice, so I project him to be sitting for the game.

5. Matt Feiler: Feiler was inactive last week, and should be inactive again this week, as the Steelers prefer to dress 7 offensive linemen.

6. Arthur Moats: Bud is back, and Moats only played 4 snaps last week. Being 3rd on the depth chart puts him in street clothes this week.

7. This is the toughest call. If Vance is hurt, then he is the pick. If he can go it’s down to 2 players: Justin Hunter and Brian Allen. Both were inactive last week. I’m starting to think that Hunter may be active, since the WRs, other than Antonio Brown, were not impactful last week. Hunter may be a good option to push the others to play harder, and to have some results while getting valuable snaps. Since Vance practiced Friday albeit partially, I will trend him up to being able to play in 2 days. That means Brian Allen will be my call to be inactive this week.

There is still an outside chance of calling Hooks or Hagen up from the practice squad, but that would mean cutting a valuable player. Since Tuitt’s injury seems to be minimal, it doesn’t make sense to expose a player for the sake of a 1-2 week need. Since Wilcox practiced partially, even though I project him being out, I think they will go with the personnel that they have. Gay can fill in at safety in a pinch.

Last week I correctly picked all 7 inactive players and correctly picked Steven Johnson being cut. Now Johnson is on the roster, and LJ Fort, who was cut to replace him, is on the practice squad. Matt Galambos was cut from the practice squad to make room for LJ.

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Bud Dupree Expects to Play on Sunday

The Steelers finished up their main portion of practice for the week on Friday morning and they received some good news. Bud Dupree who has been limited this week, and missed last week’s game against the Cleveland Browns was able to go through a full practice.

All signs point to Dupree playing unless he has some sort of setback. Tomlin has a long standing policy that you must practice if you’re going to play, and Dupree was able to go through a full one today. Last week he missed Thursday and Friday practice.

JJ Wilcox is still in the concussion protocol and while he isn’t listed as out his status is very much in doubt. That leaves the Steelers thin at the safety position again. Robert Golden will be the backup at both positions. Good news is that Sean Davis was a full participant after being limited yesterday.

Stephon Tuitt
was confined to riding a stationary bike, but said he has made progress with his bicep injury. Without practicing at all it’s very unlikely that he will play on Sunday.

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Shazier Fined 25k for Hit on Kizer

Ryan Shazier

Ryan Shazier was flagged for his hit on Browns QB Deshone Kizer on Sunday. The league also hit him in the wallet as he was fined $25,000 for the hit.

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McDonald, Davis Added to Injury list

The Steelers had two new additions to their injury report on Thursday.

Vance McDonald (back) was unable to practice today. He joins Stephon Tuitt, Jerald Hawkins, And JJ Wilcox who didn’t practice yesterday.

Sean Davis (ankle) was a limited participate, as was Bud Dupree. Dupree missed the game on Sunday after being added to the injury report a week ago today.

The final injury report will be out tomorrow.

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Smith-Schuster Must Take Advantage of Opportunity

Second round pick JuJu Smith-Schuster made his NFL debut on Sunday, but it wasn’t exactly the most memorable. Smith-Schuster was called for two early holding calls that stalled Steelers drives before they even were able to start.

It was 1st down and 10 for the Steelers. They had just blocked a punt, recovering it for a touchdown, then forced the Browns to punt again on their following drive. It was a chance to take control of the game and never look back. Then came the penalties. Smith-Schuster was called on the first play for holding. Two plays later it was Vance McDonald caught holding. They lost 7 yards and had to punt it back to Cleveland from deep inside their own territory.

Todd Haley and Ben Roethlisberger always script the firt 10-15 plays of a game. They are usually the plays Roethlisberger feels most comfortable with, and plays that have worked throughout the week of practice. The penalties forced them to change their plan.

“The third and fourth plays were run plays but when you get penalties and get backed up, you aren’t going to run the ball on second-and-20,” Roethlisberger said. “You have to find ways to get some chunks back.”

That drive dictated how the rest of the game would go for the Steelers. Le’Veon Bell would never have the opportunity to get into a rhythm, only rushing for 32 yards on ten carries. That left the Steelers one dimensional and forced to lean on the pass.

Now, even though Bell is a premier back there will be more days when Bell isn’t able to find running room. They will be forced to be one dimensional again, but if they’re able to use the pass effectively then it will open the run back up for Bell.

That’s where Smith-Schuster has to step up. A set that included 4 true wide receivers and one tight end found its way onto the field nine times on Sunday. It was Smith-Schuster replacing Bell who often was used as a wide receiver in this formation last season.

“Having JuJu and Eli out there gives us a different dynamic,” Darrius Heyward-Bey said. “It puts teams in uncomfortable situations. Linebackers have to guard receivers. I think we’re going to do more of that. We have the guys capable of doing those things.”

“There are going to be times when we don’t have 26 in there and we still need to have positive plays,” Heyward-Bey said.

Bell was leaned on last season with Martavis Bryant suspended, Markus Wheaton injured, and Heyward-Bey missing several games. Towards the end of the season Bell was playing 99 percent of the offensive snaps. It may have not been a direct cause of Bell’s injury that forced him out of the AFC Championship game, but it surely didn’t help. Keeping him fresh for the playoffs has to be on Mike Tomlin’s mind.

“Of course, of course, I want to be out there every play,” Bell said Wednesday. “However they plan to use me, I’ll be available. I want to put everything on the line when I am in the game and do the best I can. I’m just going to play in the scheme and do whatever the game plan says. I’m going to go out and execute it to the best of my ability. When the opportunities present themselves, I’m going to go out there and make plays.”

Smith-Schuster must take advantage of the opportunity.