Have the Steelers solved their linebacker conundrum Pittsburgh Steelers Hats , or is it merely window dressing? Much of what happened during the just-completed Steelers’ preseason was positive and In particular, the Steelers’ early-round draft picks were mostly impressive — including a pair of great-looking young quarterbacks, Joshua Dobbs and Mason Rudolph, who earned spots on the 53-man roster. The Black-and-gold also signed yet another strong, athletic wide receiver in James Washington, plus two undrafted, free-agent linebackers (Matthew Thomas and Ola Adeniyi) who’ve demonstrated unforeseen promise.But while it seems a foregone conclusion the Steelers will enter the 2018 regular season chock-full of offensive firepower, what’s less certain is whether the Black-and-gold have effectively addressed defensive shortcomings which ultimately cost them the chance to advance in last-season’s playoffs. While the Steelers certainly scored enough points to beat Jacksonville last January, their Swiss-cheese defense was manhandled by the Jaguars throughout the game, with linebacker play being one of the notable culprits.Young linebackers Thomas and Adeniyi were impressive in the preseason games, but Adeniyi was just placed on IR and it remains to be seen whether Thomas, in addition to ex-Colt Jon Bostic Pittsburgh Steelers Hoodie , will represent a significant upgrade to the Steelers’ late-2017 linebacker corps. The loss of Ryan Shazier’s exceptional speed and athleticism at ILB was quite noticeable during the latter stage of last season — particularly when the Steelers faced the Jaguars’ superstar RB Leonard Fournette, who rushed for 109 yards on 25 carries (4.4-yard average) and three TDs in Jacksonville’s 45-42 victory at Heinz Field.As they prepare for Opening Day in Cleveland, the harsh reality facing the Steelers is that, even in a playoff game where Ben Roethlisberger turned in one of his better performances as a pro — completing 37 passes for 469 yards — it wasn’t enough to overcome a porous defense that put up scant resistance to the Jaguars’ offensive attack. And given the wealth of outstanding, young RBs and Tight Ends in the NFL these days, it’s difficult to compete without excellence pervading your linebacker unit. But question marks still abound regarding the overall play of OLB Bud Dupree, and 2018 could be a make-or-break year for No. 48. As for Bostic, we can hardly judge his ultimate value to this defense based on what we’ve seen from him during the preseason. Only when he’s going head-to-head against the league’s best OLs, RBs and TEs will we know whether the former second-round pick (50th overall selection in 2013) can get the job done consistently. Furthermore, if Bostic doesn’t make the grade, then the rookie Thomas will be getting his trial-by-fire, facing offensive players far better than any he’s ever dealt with before. At that point Customized Pittsburgh Steelers Jerseys , Thomas would also be in a sink-or-swim situation, and his performance in the recently-concluded preseason won’t mean a thing. While I’d like nothing better than to be proven wrong in this case, I don’t see Bostic as the answer to our needs at ILB, and L.J. Fort — at age 28 — has never been more than a depth player at the position. As for the rookie Thomas, it’s going to take at least a couple of years before he masters his position at the level required for a starting NFL linebacker. So in my book, this means the Steelers still need more immediate help at ILB, and it doesn’t appear they’ve done much more than to put window dressing over some significant issues that continue to exist at this position. For this reason, I’d say the one 11th-hour personnel move which would be least surprising would have the Steelers signing an experienced, veteran ILB if the opportunity presents itself.Although they might decide to wait until after the upcoming game with the Browns to get a better idea of what they’ve actually got at ILB, I don’t see Mike Tomlin standing pat with a unit which continues to be gashed by the ground game, along with persistent pass-coverage issues.It’s only a hunch, but I’ve got a feeling that www.steelersauthorizedshops.com , when the film reviews are done this month in the wake of the early games of the season, we might hear more complaints about the linebacker play than any other aspect of this team. Despite some of the wishful thinking, it seems evident that the Steelers still are a couple of bricks shy in that department.Predicting the Steelers’ Week 4 inactive list vs. the Ravens The inactive list is a little bit harder to predict this week than in the last few. Does a player go from starting in Week 3 to inactive in week 4? Will a player be active this week for the first time this season? Each of these situations is something to look for on Sunday night.Game StatusDoubtful:CB Mike Hilton (Elbow)S Morgan Burnett (Groin)Here are the possibilities to end up inactive for Week 4:Definitely:Steelers fans should feel very lucky. For the third straight week, no one has been ruled out before the game. The Ravens already have two players out and seven listed as questionable.Most Likely:QB Mason Rudolph- same story, different week.S Morgan Burnett- Once again, his weekly progress was in the wrong direction. Going from full to limited, to not practicing within the span of three days, it’s not looking good for Burnett to make it back.CB Mike Hilton- I was hopeful for Hilton to go when he had progressed to limited participation on Thursday. But he was out again Friday, which is the wrong direction to be going in order to get a helmet.DT L.T. Walton- Until the injury bug bites, Walton will be on the sideline. I feel confident he can perform if given the chance, but I must say I hope the chance doesn’t come.WR Justin Hunter- He’s basically an insurance policy against serious injury at this point of the season.OT Zach Banner- He got a helmet last week with two other lineman being injured, but he never stepped foot onto the field. This week he gets to do the same thing in street clothes.Possibly:OT Matt Feiler or Chuks Okorafor- It’s strange Feiler would start last week while playing 100% of the offensive snaps and then be inactive the following week. But with DeCastro and Gilbert coming back Pittsburgh Steelers Womens T-Shirt , there’s just not enough helmets for everybody. Even though Feiler got the start at RT, Chuks would be the fill-in at LT and also plays the extra-TE role.S Marcus Allen- He has yet to be active this season, but if both Burnett and Hilton can’t go, it would be wise to have more depth in the defensive backfield.Unlikely:WR JuJu Smith-Schuster- Although he missed Wednesday with an abdominal injury, JuJu’s progress was in the upward direction — so much so, he didn’t wind up on the status report.Projected Inactive List:1) Mason Rudolph2) Morgan Burnett3) Mike Hilton4) L.T. Walton5) Justin Hunter 6) Zach Banner 7) Matt FeilerSo far this season, players listed as doubtful on the Steelers’ status report haven’t been active. If either of those players were to make it this week, I assume it would be Hilton. If somehow he’s able to play, that would put Marcus Allen back on the inactive list. I was very tempted to keep him on there and dress Matt Feiler, after he did such a great job last week, but I don’t know that the Steelers should leave themselves thin in the secondary.Feel free to list your projected inactives in the comments below.