The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.
The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.
How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Will players be allowed back into team facilities by the end of June?
Ordinarily, the bulk of May and June on the NFL calendar would be consumed by weeks of a rookie minicamp, several weeks of OTAs, and then a mandatory minicamp in which participation from everybody on the roster is required. The end of June through the bulk of July is then down time before training camp begins.
Thanks to the pandemic, the calendar has been thrown off. There have been no on-field practices, and it’s not clear that there will be any on-field practices any time soon. A key step was initiated yesterday, however, with most teams able to reopen their facilities in a highly limited capacity.
Once all 32 teams are legally able to reopen, I assume coaches would then be allowed to return as well, and that could happen in early June. At least that’s the timeline that I have in my head based on my attempts to read the tea leaves.
The question then becomes how much longer, and what, it would take before the players can report to the facilities. Secondary to that, yet nearly as important, is the question of what players would be able to do when they do report.
The NFL has not shut the book on the possibility of there being some type of on-field activity prior to training camp, even if there may not be a ton of optimism surrounding it. if it were to happen, of course, it would have to come in some modified form.