Ben Roethlisberger, Cameron Heyward and Joe Haden will be among the Steelers' veterans who won't be on the field when the Steelers face the Cowboys in Thursday's Hall of Fame Game. With Roethlisberger out, the Steelers will open the game with Mason Rudolph under center. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin also announced on Tuesday that rookie running back Najee Harris will not only play on Thursday, he will participate in each of the Steelers' four preseason games.
Rudolph has reportedly been outplayed during training camp by Dwayne Haskins, who is currently No. 3 on the depth chart. Tomlin said on Tuesday that the plan is for Haskins to finish the first half and Josh Dobbs will finish Thursday night's game.
After a tumultuous two years in Washington, Haskins has looked more like the player who was selected with the 15th overall pick in the 2019 draft during his brief time in Pittsburgh.
"I like what he is doing," Tomlin recently said of Haskins, via Mark Kaboly of The Athletic. "He's taking care of the ball, but at the same time, he's being aggressive. He's dialed in, even in the reps that he's not doing. He's building a rapport with the group of guys that he's getting to work with. That's a component to this that we often don't talk about, too. There is a get to know when in terms of the cohesion, especially when you are working with multiple groups and multiple people, and that's a guy who is getting some third-group reps, some second-group reps, so he has a lot of people to get comfortable with."
Along with Haskins, another highlight of Steelers training camp has been Harris, who has raised eyebrows with his big-play ability as well as his pass-catching ability. Harris recently spoke openly about his desire to play on Thursday night.
"The excitement's there for sure," Harris said, via Jim Wexell of Steel City Insider. "It's the difference between being excited and knowing that it's not the real thing. It's a gateway to get your feet wet and let the game slow down for me. I'm trying to play as much as I can in that game. I want to take as many game reps as possible -- good, bad, whatever -- and do whatever I can and go into the film room, break down film, and keep working."
Along with playing a football game, the Steelers will head to Canton, Ohio, to celebrate the induction of five former members of the organization: coach Bill Cowher, scout Bill Nunn, safeties Donnie Shell and Troy Polamalu, and offensive lineman Alan Faneca. When asked about Cowher's recent request to call one blitz during Thursday's game, Tomlin said he would be more than happy to oblige.
"Bill can have whatever he wants," Tomlin said with a smile. "He can call a half of plays if he wants to."