Yes, the Steelers are missing out on a second consecutive summer at Saint Vincent College, but they’re far from the only franchise making themselves at home for training camp this season.
Only five teams are going off-site for camp in 2021, the lowest number in at least two decades, according to numbers released by the NFL (not counting last year when the whole league was unable to travel due to COVID-19 restrictions). Those five are the Panthers, Cowboys, Chiefs, Colts and Washington, with the Football Team spending just its first five days of camp in Richmond, Va., until returning to its home practice facility. Only the Chiefs (Missouri Western) and Panthers (Wofford) are holding their camps on college campuses.
It had been a point of pride for some in Steeler Nation that the Latrobe tradition carried on even as more and more organizations opted for on-site training camps in recent years. In 2001, only nine teams held training camp in their home cities. But as recently as 2019, pre-pandemic, 22 teams had moved to playing host to camp themselves, with the Steelers one of those 10 holdouts.
That gradual shift has many wondering when, or if, the Steelers will return to Saint Vincent. Among the other teams eschewing travel for camp this preseason are the Green Bay Packers, who will hold practice at Lambeau Field rather than St. Norbert College, where they had spent the previous 61 years prior to 2020 — the only streak longer than the Steelers and Latrobe. Like the Steelers, the Packers will allow fans to watch practice at Lambeau Field.
While the Steelers are no longer the minority when it comes to their training camp location, they are resisting another preseason trend. More than 70 percent of the league will hold joint practices with another club, but the Steelers are one of just nine teams that will not. The Ravens have joint practices set up with the Panthers and the Browns will practice against the Giants. Seven teams, including the Rams and Patriots, will practice against multiple opponents.
The other teams without any joint practices scheduled are the Bengals, Chiefs, Texans, Lions, 49ers, Cardinals, Seahawks and Washington. On Tuesday, rookies from the Ravens, Bills, Patriots, Jaguars, Jets and Buccaneers are the first players across the league to reported to training camp, one day before the Steelers and Cowboys convene their entire teams.