PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers made a surprising move by making veteran outside linebacker Markus Golden inactive for the team’s Week 14 game against the New England Patriots on Thursday Night Football.
Golden, 32, has played in all 12 of the team’s games leading up to Thursday and has been the No. 3 outside linebacker in the rotation behind starters T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith.
The Steelers did not list a reason for him to be inactive and he was not on the team’s injury report this week.
Golden’s scratch means that rookie Nick Herbig will move the list as the primary backup at edge rusher. Kyron Johnson, who was activated for the second straight week for his special teams prowess, will serve as the fourth outside linebacker.
The Steelers are thin at inside linebacker, with Elandon Roberts expected to attempt to play through a groin injury. The club activated Blake Martinez for the first time this season, and he is expected to play in rotation behind starters Roberts and Mykal Walker.
The Steelers brought Golden in as a free agent from the Arizona Cardinals this offseason to shore up their depth at outside linebacker after Watt missed a large part of the 2022 season and the team’s backups struggled to replace him.
But Golden has been used sparingly so far this season. In 12 games, he has 11 tackles, three tackles for loss, five quarterback hits and three sacks. He has played in 156 snaps, or 19% of the Steelers’ defensive snaps.
Herbig has played 103 snaps so far, but figures to see an increase on Thursday with Golden out of action.
The Steelers made five other players inactive on Thursday: quarterback Kenny Pickett (right high ankle sprain surgery), running back Anthony McFarland, cornerback James Pierre (shoulder), tackle Dylan Cook and defensive end DeMarvin Leal.