Disappointing Announcement Affects Steelers’ Preseason Opener

Mason Rudolph

Getty Pittsburgh Steelers backup QB Mason Rudolph.

Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger and most of the rest of the team’s starters probably wouldn’t have played much, if at all, in the Steelers’ preseason opener. But now the first game action for Roethlisberger & Co. won’t come until mid-August—at least.

This morning ESPN Senior NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported that the “Dallas Cowboys-Pittsburgh Steelers preseason opener at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio on Aug. 6 is being cancelled….”

Cowboys-Steelers to Meet in 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game

Looked at a different way, however, one might say that this year’s Hall of Fame Game matchup is merely being postponed for a year.

Schefter also reports that the league expects to schedule the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers in next summer’s Hall of Fame game.

Also postponed is the Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony, which was scheduled to take place on August 8. That means that former Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher will not be enshrined in the Hall of Fame until 2021.

Pittsburgh Steelers Will Report to Training Camp Later

The cancellation of the Hall of Fame game also has implications for when the Steelers will report to training camp. Originally, the team was scheduled to report for training camp on July 22, but now it appears that the opening of training camp will be pushed back at least six days—until July 28—when most other NFL teams are scheduled to report.

Yet another Schefter tweet hints that July 28 may be in doubt in terms of a reporting date—for the Steelers and the other NFL teams.

Training Camp at Heinz Field

Regardless of the date when training camp opens, the Steelers will hold training camp at Heinz Field, one of many concessions already made in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

At first, it was assumed that the Steelers would switch training camp to UPMC Sports Complex on the South Side, where the team trains and practices during the regular season.

But UPMC Sports Complex lacks the space afforded by Heinz Field, the latter of which has four separate locker rooms, which will make it easier for the organization to comply with the social distancing measures that have been prescribed by the NFL.

Pittsburgh has already indicated that it will hold its 2021 training camp at Saint Vincent College, which has played host to the Steelers every summer—except this one—since 1966.

The announcement of the cancellation of the Hall of Fame game was not entirely unexpected; Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh’s NFLPA union rep, had already indicated that the game was likely to be cancelled.

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Pittsburgh’s New 2020 Preseason Opener

With the cancellation of the Hall of Fame Game, Pittsburgh is now expected to open its preseason schedule on Friday Aug. 14 against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Heinz Field. If that game is played as scheduled, it will be Brady’s first appearance with the Buccaneers.

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