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Steelers Players Excited for ‘First Day of School,’ with Fans in Stands, Pads on at Heinz Field



PITTSBURGH — Everything is about to ramp up for the sixth session of the Steelers’ 2021 training camp at Heinz Field on Wednesday.

For the first time since 2019, the Steelers will take part in a training camp sessions with fans in the stand, with the East stand of Heinz Field set to be filled with Black and Gold faithful for the 1:30 p.m. practice session.

The team spent all of 2020 training camp at Heinz Field without fans due to COVID-19 mitigation policies, though the Steelers played most of their games last season with at least some fans in the building.

This summer, the team was once again prevented from traveling to St. Vincent College near Latrobe, Pa. for camp, spending its first four days at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side before moving to Heinz Field beginning on Tuesday.
Wednesday afternoon, the fans will follow, with many getting their first opportunity to cheer on the team in person since before the pandemic.

Along with the fans, Wednesday will also be the first day in the 2021 season that the Steelers will practice with full pads on, giving the team its first chance at full-contact football.

That will include the popular backs-on-backers drill that is always a fan favorite, as well as a favorite evaluation tool for Tomlin, who wants to see what his players will do in a more physical environment.

“We’re going to do what we do, get a chance to know them and let the iron sharpen the iron,” Tomlin said. “Just elements of real football, you know? They really start to reveal themselves when you get in real football-like conditions and that’s what [Wednesday] signifies for us.”

The combination of fans in the stands and pads on shoulders has the Steelers players excited.

“They are,” Tomlin said. “They’re competitors. You feel the energy out here. These guys have been playing football all their lives, man. This is a very normal thing for them. They’re excited about it. They’ve trained a long time to put themselves in this position. It’s like the first day of school.”

Admission to Heinz Field is free, but fans must reserve a ticket through Ticketmaster. Several hundred tickets remained available as of late Wednesday morning.