The Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Cleveland Browns tonight at Heinz Field as they look to move to 10-3 on the season and inch even closer to a playoff birth. The short week went by fast and the Wednesday injury report shows that five players were ruled out and one player as doubtful. That makes the inactives for Thursday night very easy to predict with the only real choice being the 7th inactive. As I do every week, here is the prediction of the 7 game inactives and a few notes on each of the players. The official list will be announced 90 minutes before kickoff.
LB LaMarr Woodley - Woodley tried to go last week against the Bengals after a three game absence, but his hamstring reportedly fatigued early on him. He left the game early on and did not return. Head coach Mike Tomlin refused to say he suffered a setback, so hopefully Woodley will be ready for the 49ers game next Monday night. He was listed as doubtful on the injury report, but there is no way he suits up against the Browns.
WR Emmanuel Sanders - Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians let the cat out of the bad yesterday that Sanders would be held out this because of a sore knee. Sanders was only listed on the injury report with a foot injury, but regardless, he did not work this week. The team would like him to get some extra time to get fully healthy for the last 3 games of the season. Sanders was ruled out on the last injury report.
NT Chris Hoke - It was not a good week for Hoke as he will be lost for the season after having neck surgery next week. Hoke reportedly is still having problems following his last stinger suffered against the Jaguars back in week 6. No roster move is expected until next week, so Hoke will likely be on the inactive list for the last time on Thursday night.
RB Jonathan Dwyer - Dwyer was active last week against the Bengals as a 4th running back and received a couple of carries late in the game. Tomlin said on Monday that Dwyer has some sort of foot problem and he did not practice during the short week because of it. It is unknown how severe of injury that Dwyer suffered, but he has been ruled out this week and will be inactive.
LB Chris Carter - Carter is still trying to battle back from his latest hamstring injury and was also ruled out after not working again this week. He will likely be out a few more weeks as well and will be inactive Thursday night.
WR Arnaz Battle - Battle is also trying to recover from a hamstring injury and could very well be back next week against the 49ers, but that is not written in stone. Battle was ruled out on the final injury report and will be down again this week.
QB Dennis Dixon - The only real guess that has to be made this week is the last spot on this list. Dixon looks like the likeliest candidate, but it would not be surprising to see tackle Jamon Meredith end up here just the same. The real winner this week looks to be defensive end Al Woods, as he looks to get a helmet for the first time since the Steelers claimed him off waivers. If Dixon does not dress it will also mean the Steelers will dress all 9 offensive linemen on the 53 man roster.
UPDATE: Both Hoke & Dwyer were placed on injured reserve today and Mortty Ivy and safety Damon Cromartie-Smith were signed to the 53 man roster to take thir place. Projected inactives now will be: WR E.Sanders, WR A.Battle, LB L.Woodley ,LB C.Carter, T J.Meredith, DE A.Woods, QB D.Dixon.