Welcome to 'Guess the inactives'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- No coach liked the process of deactivating eight players on a Sunday, particularly when his team is largely healthy.

In Pittsburgh, Mike Munchak will scratch injured linebacker Zaviar Gooden.

From there, as he and his staff settle on which 45 players to dress, there will be a complicated game of give and take for numbers at positions.

One key piece of it is right tackle David Stewart, who’s missed time this week with calf soreness. The Titans expect he will be able to go. But what if something goes wrong? They have nine offensive linemen. Do they need to dress eight in order to pad the insurance at tackle?

The trickle down could be that a team with six receivers dresses only four. (John Glennon and Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean delve into that here.) Four active receivers would come with risk too, because they will use three-wide a lot and if one guy gets hurt they won’t have anyone to rotate in.

The fifth and sixth receivers are Justin Hunter and Michael Preston. Hunter is a deep threat who can go up and get jump balls. Preston is a better special-teamer.

I don’t know if we will play this weekly, but here’s a try at “Guess the inactives.”

Back to Hunter.

Let’s, please, guard against the predictable reaction. If he’s a scratch, some will see it and presume he’s not doing good work. The guy is still raw, but he’s ready to play. He can help take the top off a defense with deep routes and he can win in jump-ball situations. If he doesn’t dress, it’s not because they are unhappy with them. It’s because of the numbers game.