On July 28, Steelers’ players arrived at training camp, which looks a lot different this year than in years past. The coronavirus pandemic has forced the NFL to announce new regulations regarding preseason affairs.
Steelers’ Players Arrive in Style
As Steelers’ veteran players began to arrive at Heinz Field for training camp, they were immediately greeted with changes and new safety precautions.
Players were instructed to arrive in their vehicles at the back side of Heinz Field to limit close contact with the public.
Despite a lack of crazy and fun entrances by players, they still managed to show up in their own unique styles, face masks included.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 28, 2020
With the official announcement that preseason games have been canceled for 2020, Steelers’ players will be spending as much time as possible on the field and in the weight room.
The Steelers would have had five preseason games this year, including the Hall of Fame game in which they were to face the Dallas Cowboys.
COVID-19 Forces Many Training Camp Changes
Among the most significant changes in training camp this year for the Pittsburgh Steelers is the location.
Usually, Steelers’ players arrive at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania to participate in preseason training. This year, players will instead train at Heinz Field.
“We are disappointed for our fans and the city of Latrobe that we will not be able to hold our annual training camp at Saint Vincent College in 2020, but we are adhering to the policies and guidelines set forth from the NFL for teams that travel from their facilities each year,” Steelers’ owner Art Rooney II said in a statement released in June.
According to the NFL, players must test negative for COVID-19 three times between July 28 and July 31. If they do so successfully, they can get their equipment and physicals on Aug. 1 and 2. Players will continue to be tested every day.
As far as practices go, there are several new restrictions and regulations.
During an acclamation period from Aug. 3 to Aug. 11, players can only have one hour in the weight room and one hour of on-field conditioning each day. They can also have walkthroughs ranging from 60 to 75 minutes.
From Aug. 12 through 16, players can be on the field for 3.5 hours a day, participating in practices that gradually increase in length. Players can only wear helmets during four practices on designated days, and shells on two designated days.
Aug 8. and Aug. 15 are mandatory off days for all teams.
During the final stretch of the preseason, from Aug. 17 to Sept. 6, only 14 padded practices will be allowed.
A New Way of Preparing for the Season
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, safety precautions are at an all-time high. Sanitizing stations and masks can be found around almost every corner.
Rookie linebacker Alex Highsmith has been in the building for about a week now.
“We’re just doing whatever we can to stay safe,” Highsmith said during a press conference. “I think that’s so important, you know, ’cause we still want to be able to play this season.”
With this year’s unique offseason, the Steelers’ coaching staff is having to make some sudden decisions about who will start at certain positions. A normal training camp experience would have been necessary for those like head coach Mike Tomlin to make final assessments of player capabilities.
“With the lack of opportunity for learning in the offseason and teaching, we’re acknowledging as a staff we have to make some quick decisions and then roll from there,” Tomlin said.