The Steelers inactives against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers today are a direct reflection of the team's injury report this week.
Four defensive backs, safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and cornerbacks Cam Sutton, Levi Wallace and Ahkello Witherspoon are all inactive.
Fitzpatrick has been dealing with a knee injury the last few weeks, although he did play against the Bills on Sunday. Sutton has been dealing with a hamstring injury, and while he was able to start against the Bills last week, he wasn't able to finish the game. Witherspoon has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury and still isn't back on the field. Wallace suffered a concussion against the Bills and is still in the protocol.
Tight end Pat Freiermuth, who is in the concussion protocol, has been ruled out for the game. Freiermuth suffered a concussion against the Buffalo Bills last week.
With Freiermuth out, rookie tight end Connor Heyward is expected to see more playing time. Heyward said this week that he got more snaps in practice, something that helped him prepare for whatever the workload is going to be.
"I feel like it gave me a jump for Sunday," said Heyward. "You practice like you play. Go out there and practice the game plan. It has to carry out throughout the week."
Heyward said he already has a good rapport with quarterback Kenny Pickett, both of them coming in together in this year's rookie class and getting plenty of reps with each other early on.
"Me and him came in at the same time," said Heyward. "He is a great quarterback, great friend. We have a connection. We know he is going to do the job. We have to make the plays for him.
"I feel like sometimes he knows where I am going to be. We have the same mindset and feel for the game. That comes from having reps together in the preseason, minicamp and training camp."
The Steelers made multiple roster moves on Saturday, including signing cornerback Josh Jackson to the 53-man roster from the practice squad. Jackson is active today.
Jackson was previously elevated to the Active/Inactive roster for the Week 4 game against the New York Jets and Week 5 against the Buffalo Bills, seeing action in both games. He had a fumble recovery in the end zone against the Bills. Jackson was signed to the Steelers practice squad on Sept. 5. Prior to joining the Steelers, he was with the Arizona Cardinals, where he was signed in 2022 offseason but was released on the final roster cut.
The Steelers also elevated safety Elijah Riley and cornerback Quincy Wilson to the Active/Inactive Roster and both are active today.
Riley was also elevated to the Active/Inactive Roster for the Bills game. Riley was claimed off waivers from the New York Jets during training camp. He started the last seven games in 2021 for the Jets, after he was signed off the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad. He finished with 45 tackles and three tackles for a loss.
Wilson was signed to the Steelers practice squad prior to the team's Week 3 game versus Cleveland. Wilson has played in 32 games, 11 starts, in his five years in the NFL, including three seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and one with the New York Jets. He spent the 2021 season on the New York Giants Reserve/Injured List. He has 61 career tackles, 49 of them solo stops, two interceptions, eight passes defensed and a fumble recovery.
Also inactive today are quarterback Mason Rudolph and guard Kendrick Green.
The full list of inactives is below.
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No. 2 QB Mason Rudolph
No. 20 CB Cam Sutton
No. 25 CB Ahkello Witherspoon
No. 29 CB Levi Wallace
No. 39 S Minkah Fitzpatrick
No. 53 G Kendrick Green
No. 88 TE Pat Freiermuth
No. 2 QB Kyle Trask
No. 6 WR Julio Jones
No. 8 TE Kyle Rudolph
No. 23 CB Sean Murphy-Bunting
No. 26 S Logan Ryan
No. 32 S Mike Edwards
No. 96 DL Akiem Hicks