2016 South Side: Who Will Get To Rest For Season Finale?

The regular season is here, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are taking their practices at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the real work is now upon us, there is plenty left to be done.

And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they wade through a regular season in which they are, at least supposed to be, among the favorites to win the Super Bowl.

Question: How much will some of the Steelers’ key starters play in their meaningless regular-season finale against the Browns?

As you no doubt know by now, the Steelers’ victory on Sunday over the Ravens gave them not only the AFC North and the third seed in the division, it also placed them in a position in which they can in no way help or hurt their playoff standings in their 16th game of the regular season. In other words, whether they beat the Browns on Sunday or lose to a 1-14 team, it will not affect the playoffs in any statistical way.

What the Steelers are likely looking to do is to prevent that game from affecting the playoffs in any physical way, by taking care of some of their key players. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger already expressed in the hours after the game the hope that the team chooses to give some of its key veterans rest.

Roethlisberger is probably the most obvious choice. He is unlikely to play against the Browns, and may not even dress. Running back Le’Veon Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown are other prime candidates to sit this one out. Bell suffered an injury in Week 17 in 2014 that knocked him out of the playoffs. He also missed the team’s postseason run a year ago, and has yet to play in a postseason game.

Among the offensive line, the only player likely to be given the opportunity to sit might be center Maurkice Pouncey, who is their most valued, but also most injured player have pulled him out of blowout games before.

Defensively, Lawrence Timmons is the most likely among healthy players to get a game off, even if he may not want it after starting 100 consecutive games. Stephon Tuitt, who is recovering from a knee injury, will almost assuredly not even dress.

Ladarius Green, recovering from a concussion, may not even clear the concussion protocol in time for the game. Sammie Coates is coming off of a hamstring injury. Injured players are almost guaranteed not to play. But it will be interesting to see just how many players get rest in the finale, or whether they opt for the ‘momentum’ and ‘chemistry’ arguments for not skipping a week.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Steeler Miller

    Somebody go to Bell’s house and wrap him in bubble wrap ASAP. Don’t even let him in the building on Sunday.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Unless they have a nagging injury I would play all starters for a half but would tell them they would play all game so they do not loose their edge and stay sharp.

  • James Cowan

    Playing Ben, Bell or AB would be mad, one of those being knocked out before the playoffs would be a disaster.

  • The Truth

    Do not play Harrison, Shazier and Pouncey.

    Play BR, Bell and Brown only for one of two series to keep their rhythm. BR is horrible after a layoff.

    Play Gilbert and Chickillo a lot.

    Dupree should play at least a half or more. He needs a lot of work. Most starters should play at least a half.

  • The Truth

    Because BR is horrible after missing time. A series or two will help keep them sharp.

  • James Cowan

    After injury sure but he’s usually fine after a bye, I think.

  • dany

    Get him some weed so he relaxes at home and doesn’t leave

    Wait what

  • Froggy

    Mike Mitchell should get the week off, as he has been banged up lately and is no longer young.

  • steelburg

    I think we should play all healthy guys for at least a full quarter or half. Bell, Ben and AB will play a quarter only. Anyone who is the slightest bit nicked up will be sitting.

  • Kevin artis

    I agree they should play but not an entire half. Maybe a series or two but that’s it.

  • Kevin artis

    Vince Williams, Makavich and L.J. Fort would get a lot of playing time. Shazier and Timmons a series.
    McCullers, Walton and Maxey up front.
    Shabazz and Golden at safeties.
    Gilbert at one of the corners.
    But all starters would dress and play at least a series.

  • Orlysteel

    AB is a freak of nature, I’ll probably play him, but if you’re the head coach and one of your starters gets hurt in a meaningless game when you’re getting ready for a playoff game you’re going to take some flak.

  • Steve Bozell

    No, Ben is not horrible after a layoff, he’s horrible after being rushed back from injury too soon. After a bye he’ll be fine.

  • Steve Bozell

    Ben is not healthy – he tweaked a knee vs. Baltimore. It’s sheer madness to suggest any of the big three even dress. THIS is why they needed to beat Baltimore, i.e. to break the pattern of the last two seasons where they needed week 17 wins and ended up limping into the playoffs, bruised and battered, without their top running back.

  • steelburg

    Did you not see where I said if anyone is the slightest bit nicked they should sit? If Ben is nicked he shiuld not play. Anyone who is 100 percent healthy should play at least a quarter IMO, that’s just the way I feel about it.

  • Axe Skot

    As few starters as possible. Period. Fin.

  • alevin16

    Give a few of the back up D line a crash course in O line and put them in so that NONE of the O line has to play. Heck put Jarvis in on the line. I don’t care how creative you have to be find a way to sit everyone! Or take a knee on every play and punt 😀

  • heath miller

    100% correct steve… what is the point of playing a series or two… you can get hurt on the first play of the game .. we have played to be in this position to use week 17 as a bye week.. lets not F that up and get someone hurt in a meaningless game.. can you imagine ben start.. play one series and break a leg (lot of that going around with QBs right now) .. just absolutely stupid ass idea .. SIT AS MANY STARTERS AS POSSIBLE.. 83 tag team

  • heath miller

    thats because they rush him back after and injury and hes not 100% .. look at this eyar with the knee injury . the yeah with the ribs that almost punctured a lunch . and they brought him back in a flack jacket.. he bad when hes rushed back and still injured .. not after a week off like a bye week .. big difference

  • heath miller

    yep and wrap his mouth sooo so he cant enjoy the bye week smoking a little week and gt busted on a random drug teat .. jsut wrap him and fed him interveniously (however you spell it )

  • Steve Bozell

    Everyone at this point is nicked. Rest, recharge, get ready for the playoffs. This team was down double digits in the 2nd half the last two weeks. They’re running on fumes.

  • Ralph Wagner

    You play your players, period. Did you see the Cowboys game last night? You play to win the game. This game is a good tune -up game for the playoffs it will keep everyone in a good football playing frame of mind. They Steelers are entering the playoffs not going on vacation. LOL

  • steelburg

    Well that’s your opinion. I disagree I think they should play at least a little if they are capable. But I would also use this time to get a good look at a guy like Justin Gilbert and Chickillo amongst others.

  • Steve Bozell

    The Cowboys were playing a week 16 game, and have a bye week before their first playoff game. Nobody is suggesting taking three weeks off.

  • Reggie Cunningham

    Play Landry Jones and Metteburg a series. Give Jarvis some reps, J. Gilbert ,V.Will and D. Will. I think we will still get a W

  • Kenneth Wilt

    Most guys will need to play if for no other reason than we are still pretty banged up. I think the guys you attempt to rest some are….AB, Bell and Ben on offense. Mitchell, Shazier, Timmons, and Harrison on D. Dressing and playing a bunch are not the same thing, we all know that.

  • pittfan

    Maybe we should just forfeit the game. After all, who can we afford to lose.

  • RickM

    Can’t see any sense in dressing James H. given his recent workload and age. Man I wouldn’t let Gilbert near the field either knowing Wake is coming up.

  • steelburg

    Hey why not. They can just have a playoff party for the fans when they show up. Give away a few foam fingers and bring in someone to perform lol.

  • RickM

    Yep. They would have almost month between games if they started resting guys last night. We will see them rest a few guys next week I assume.

  • Steve Bozell

    You need to stop wetting yourself at the prospect of losing to Cleveland’s 4th string QB. It’s rather unbecoming.

  • Dshoff

    I’d treat it like the last preseason game, a series or two. Brown needs to get his 7 or 17 yards and then get out. Hargrave should get plenty of rest. He’s a rookie right up against the rookie wall. We will REALLY see what the Steelers think of Justin Gilbert now. I’m amazed that he hasn’t gotten time at kick returner with Coates out. If he doesn’t get in on the defense THIS week, then something is seriously wrong.

  • pittfan

    And I’d recommend you put on some pants and get out of Moms basement. It’s a big world out here and you certainly need work on your people skills.

  • pittfan

    Well call it The BubbleWrap Bowl.
    Sponsored by FedEx, of course!

  • Matthew Marczi

    Robert Golden has an ankle injury though and Shamarko Thomas is on injured reserve. Jordan Dangerfield is the only other safety. Not that he can’t start, but they can’t play with only two safeties.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Shabazz is a cornerback and Golden has an ankle injury.

  • LucasY59

    Green (concussion) hopefully clears protocol this week but keep him out regardless
    Tuitt (knee) give him another week to get the knee closer to 100%
    Ben (#1 QB) no need for him to do anything other than help the backup QBs from the sideline, especially since he took a hit to the knee against the Ravens (Landry and theotherberger can be the active QBs)
    Coates (hamstring/fingers) has dealt with injuries for most of the season, fingers are good, but an extra week off cant hurt and the new hammy needs rest even if the fingers are 100% (having 1 WR out makes AB dress, which is what AB probably wants)
    Bell (#1 RB) has been injured the last 2 post seasons, he doesnt get a helmet (D-Lo needs to get some snaps returning from injury)
    Pouncey (#1 C) leader of the OL that has had injuries in previous yrs, keep him healthy (Finney can start at Center)
    Shazier (#1 defensive playmaker) is a player they cant risk getting injured before the postseason (Willams deserves to get a start/playing time)
    *Golden and Mathews are dinged up and could be possible inactives as well, but because the team is sitting some of the starters, they might need them to dress (and possibly play) for depth (IF they are healthy enough)

    Other players that should get minimal snaps
    Harrison (#1 pass rusher) oldest player on the team, should have a week off even if he doesnt think he needs it (getting Chick more snaps isnt a bad thing either)
    AB (like I mentioned with Coates, AB wants to play some (and add a little to his season stats) but I think 2-3 series at the most is all he should play)
    Gilbert (keeping him healthy helps keep Ben healthy, Hubbard played well enough when filling in for MG earlier in the season)
    Timmons (with Shazier inactive Matakevich could get a lot of playing time also, would like to see what he would do with the snaps as well)
    Mitchell (is one of the more Veteran players on D and Dangerfield can play well enough that MM doesnt need to play more than a few series)
    Cockrell (silently one of the more important Defensive players, they have enough CB depth that Gilbert or Shabazz could play most of the game and he can rest)

    Guys that I hope dont have to play after halftime
    D-Lo (let him play the 1st half to get some game action, but dont give him a full games workload after returning from injury, Touissaint can carry it for the rest of the game)
    DeCastro (can only sit 3 starting OL, and even though Foster is the most Veteran, DD is a guy that would negatively impact the playoff games more if he were injured Mihalik comes in at RT and Hubbard shifts inside to RG)
    Hargrave (with Mathews possibly limited, Javon might play quite a few snaps, but unlike Davis/Burns I wouldnt mind seeing Hargrave out of the game as early as possible)
    Dupree (all the other Starting LBs should be limited so Bud should be as well, he doesnt have a full season of wear and tear on him, but he was working hard to get back to the team while he was out on IR-return, and since they have decent depth at OLB, he should be able to find a seat fairly early)