Some things we know for sure headed into the game with Miami is that right defensive end Brett Keisel is out and will be inactive. Emmanuel Sanders will be the 4th receiver once again and handle some return duties. Rookies Jonathan Dwyer and Crezdon Butler can once again pack only their sideline clothes. An interesting mystery though is that if indeed Steve McLendon is not activated to take the place of Keisel on the game day roster then you could see rookie linebacker Thaddeus Gibson get a helmet for depth as a left side pass rusher if needed in a pinch. 6 of these 8 spots are pretty much locked in, but as I explain below, 2 could go many different ways depending on the health of Essex and who gets the hat with Keisel down. Below are the eight players we expect to see on the Steelers inactive list released 90 minutes before kickoff on Sunday.
QB Charlie Batch – Quarterback Byron Leftwich must indeed be healthy from his knee injury suffered in preseason as Batch was the inactive #3 QB versus the Browns last week. I see no reason why head coach Mike Tomlin would not go the same route once again down in Miami.
DE Brett Keisel – Keisel was ruled out earlier in the week with a hamstring injury so he will indeed be inactive. As of 4:30 p.m. eastern, there has been no word that Steve McLendon has been signed from the practice squad so the Steelers will likely only take 5 healthy defensive linemen to Miami today. Who gets his helmet? At this point my best guess is Gibson. He can play special teams and work on the left side if emergency strikes.
T Tony Hills – I just can not justify Hills getting a helmet this week, especially as I have him as the 53rd man on the roster right now. He will plenty of time to bitch about his Texas Longhorn\’s problems on Sunday.
G Trai Essex – Essex was deemed questionable on the injury report and was limited all week in practice with the ankle he hurt in Tennessee. It is not out of the question he could still get a helmet on Sunday, but why risk it? Doug Legursky is starting at right guard regardless and Ramon Foster will once again likely be the swing guard. It could go the other way just as easy and Foster be listed here if Essex is deemed healthy enough.
WR Antonio Brown – The early word is that rookie wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders will once again get a hat this week so in all likelihood that means Brown will be down again. Sanders is the better route runner at this point. The special teams play of veteran receiver Arnaz Battle is another reason Brown is down.
CB Keenan Lewis – Hard to see anything changing here unless he gets the hat because Keisel is down. Another week, and likely another great seat to watch the game.
RB Jonathan Dwyer – Not too much being reported on Dwyer and that is great news. Hopefully he is buddies with Isaac Redman and learning the running back position outside of just running the ball.
CB Crezdon Butler – Not much to say here. Looking forward to 2011 with him baring injuries in the secondary this year.