Football is back. The NFL preseason starts Thursday night with the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The game will be played at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio and will kick off at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.
The NFL will have preseason football for the first time since 2019. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were no preseason games played in 2020. The Hall of Fame game will kick off a very big Hall of Fame weekend, as the Class of 2020 will be enshrined on Saturday and the Class of 2021 will be enshrined on Sunday. Some of the notable members of the 2020 class are Steve Atwater, Isaac Bruce, Edgerrin James and coaches Bill Cowher and Jimmy Johnson. The 2021 class features Peyton Manning, Charles Woodson and Calvin Johnson.
As for the game itself, the Steelers are looking to bounce back after a disappointing end to a strong 2020 season. After starting the year 11-0, Pittsburgh lost four of their last five games and got bounced by the Cleveland Browns in the wild-card round of the playoffs. Steelers fans are looking forward to seeing rookie running back Najee Harris who had a standout career at the University of Alabama.
"He's a rookie, he needs the process of game preparation, and then ultimately play," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said per Steelers.com. "We've got four opportunities for him to do that, and we're going to make sure he participates in all four of those processes. We will determine how much he plays (in those games), but the preparation process, the process of readying yourself to play is something I believe all those young guys need, regardless of their potential roles for us."
The Cowboys are coming off a tough year where they finished 6-10. One of the big reasons for their struggles in 2020 was the loss of quarterback Dak Prescott who suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 5. Prescott won't play in tonight's game as they are playing it safe with him.
"We're being a little more conservative with his rehab," McCarthy said, via The Athletic's Jon Machota. "We just want to make sure this doesn't turn into something bigger." The 2021 preseason will be shorter as each team will play three games instead of four to counter with the added regular-season game. But with the Steelers and Cowboys playing in the Hall of Fame game, they will have four preseason contests.