Recent reports state that the Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame Game against the Cowboys will be canceled. Here’s why that’s another big blow to young players.
It’s a tough year to be a rookie in the NFL. But it’s a tough year to do just about anything, for that matter. Thanks to restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NFL rookies were already forced to forgo minicamp this year. Though the Pittsburgh Steelers were scheduled to play in five preseason games this year, that will no longer be the case.
Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently reported that a source confirms the Steelers vs. Cowboys Hall of Fame Game scheduled for August 6th will be canceled:
Hall of Fame game between Steelers and Cowboys on Aug 6 will be cancelled today because of Covid 19, source confirms.
— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) June 25, 2020
This isn’t something that came out of the blue, as the NFL has been contemplating shortening the preseason in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. However, there’s no doubt the loss of this preseason game (and potentially others) will have a big impact on the development of rookies.
Instead of getting ample time to test the NFL waters against other young players in preseason, rookies will get very little time to showcase their abilities this August. If the preseason is cut down to just two games (something that seems like a real possibility), rookies may just get a few minutes of playtime as veterans likely take a majority of snaps to warm up for the upcoming season.
This means that a good training camp will be essential for Steelers rookies if they want any chance of seeing the field early in their NFL careers. In most years, Chase Claypool (being a second-round draft choice) would be a lock to slide in as Pittsburgh’s 4th wide receiver on the depth chart, but even that isn’t guaranteed at this point.
Likewise, players like Alex Highsmith, Anthony McFarland, and Kevin Dotson will each have limited opportunities to show where they deserve to land on the Steelers depth chart heading into the season.
Fortunately, all NFL teams are dealing with the same disadvantage. However, five preseason games would have been an incredible sample size for young Steelers players to showcase their abilities and how they might contribute to the upcoming season.
Now, it will be up to Mike Tomlin and Pittsburgh’s coaching staff to decide when rookies and other unproven players will be ready to step in and help make a difference for their football team.
The Pittsburgh Steelers stand to be a competitive team in 2020 – assuming Ben Roethlisberger stays healthy this year. However, injuries occur often in the NFL, and it would be nice to know that the rookie class is able to step up and contribute if called upon.