HALL OF FAME GAME

NFL Hall of Fame game: Cowboys and Steelers look to draft picks Micah Parsons and Najee Harris

The Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers will both make their seventh Hall of Fame game appearance on Thursday, with both teams holding a record of 3-3.

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NFL Hall of Fame game: Cowboys and Steelers look to draft picks Micah Parsons and Najee Harris
Jayne Kamin-Oncea AFP

The 2021 NFL pre-season kicks off this Thursday (8pm ET) as the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers clash in the Hall of Fame game, which was cancelled last year due to the pandemic.

Dallas and Pittsburgh are the only teams that will play four exhibition games in 2021 as the preseason has been shortened to three weeks, and so we'll see very few regular starters on Thursday evening at the Tom Benson Hall Of Fame Stadium.

Cowboys look to Parsons

Having picked up a minor shoulder injury in practice, Cowboys QB Dak Prescott will stay on the bench for Thursday’s game, while 2021 first-round draft pick, line backer Micah Parsons, is set to have his first audition for the Cowboys. Parsons has impressed at training camp and Dallas fans will be looking forward to seeing him in action in a game.

"The one who has made the biggest difference is Micah Parsons," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said over the weekend. “You see what the coaches are doing with him. They have him covering the entire field. Micah has a unique skill set that can be used as a tool to really help improve our defense."

Dallas' defense was one of the worst last season, which is why Jones signed Dan Quinn as the new defensive coordinator.

Steelers to debut Najee Harris

Najee Harris #22 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in action during training camp at Heinz Field on July 28, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The Steelers will also have their first-round draft pick on the field: running back Najee Harris. Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin confirmed that he will use Harris in all four preseason games.

"He's a rookie," Tomlin told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He needs the process of game preparation and to ultimately play. We have four opportunities for him to do that and we’re going to make sure he participates in all four of those processes.”

Harris comes to the NFL after a demanding season at Alabama, where he made 1,466 yards and 26 touchdowns on the ground in 2020, in addition to catching 43 passes and adding another 425 yards in the aerial game.

Eight legends added to Hall of Fame

Five former Steelers will be inducted into the Hall of Fame over the weekend: coach Bill Cowher, scout Bill Nunn, safety Troy Polamalu, safety Donnie Shell and guard Alan Faneca; while the busts of three Cowboys legends will be added to the Canton collection: coach Jimmy Johnson, safety Cliff Harris and wide receiver Drew Pearson.

Both franchises will make their seventh appearance in the Hall of Fame game, and go into the showdown with an equal record of 3-3. Dallas’ most recent Hall of Fame appearance was in 2017, when they beat the Arizona Cardinals 20-18. Two years earlier, Pittsburgh lost 14-3 to the Minnesota Vikings.