This afternoon the Pittsburgh Steelers announced that the club will hold its 2020 training camp at Heinz Field.
The news came courtesy of Burt Lauten, the Steelers’ director of communications.
Initially it was assumed that the Steelers would hold training camp at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, where the team trains and practices during the regular season.
But space considerations may have played a role in the decision. UPMC Rooney Sports Complex has three outdoor practice fields, as well as an indoor field. But it lacks the kind of locker room space that is available at Heinz Field, which has four separate locker rooms—one for the Steelers, one for the Pitt Panthers, and two locker rooms that are utilized by visiting teams.
The additional locker room space will help the team comply with required social distancing measures, which the NFL outlined in a memo addressed to all of its teams.
Meanwhile, no word yet on whether fans will be able to watch any training camp practices.
Team President Art Rooney II has already stated that the Steelers plan to return to Saint Vincent College for training camp in 2021.
NFL Considering Canceling First Week of Preseason Games, Delaying Start of Regular Season
As for when training camp might actually get underway, that remains up in the air.
According to Albert Breer of SI, it’s highly unlikely that there will be any minicamps this year, as “it’s pretty much logistically impossible for the league and union to make full-squad minicamps happen before the end date for offseason programs, which was negotiated to be June 26.”
But it’s possible that rookies and new veterans will be allowed to return to their teams before June 26, both for the purposes of:
– Taking physicals, and
– Finalizing rookie contracts
(To date, none of the Steelers’ 2020 draft picks have signed their rookie contracts.)
Meanwhile, Breer also reports that “moving the season back to an October start is one option I know some teams support—it’d allow for the NFL to observe how other leagues start back up, watch them do things right and wrong, and buy more time….” Yet according to Breer the league hasn’t been receptive to the idea of delaying the start of the season—a change that would need to be negotiated with the players’ union.
Last but not least, Breer notes that there has been talk about canceling the first week of preseason games, which could impact two games on the Steelers’ 2020 preseason schedule: the Hall of Fame Game against the Dallas Cowboys and the preseason home opener, which is scheduled to be Tom Brady’s first appearance with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Mike Tomlin Returns to Rooney Sports Complex
In other news, head coach Mike Tomlin has been back at work at Rooney Sports Complex since last Friday, though it’s unclear whether any of his staff have yet joined him.
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