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Cancellation prevents matchup between Fighting Illini at NFL Hall of Fame game

Good morning! Welcome to the Orange Minute for Monday, August 8.

The annual Hall of Fame game signals an official beginning for the NFL preseason, and the 2016 contest was set to feature a clash between Green Bay and Indianapolis. Coincidentally, that also meant we’d be treated to a matchup of first-year pros Josh Ferguson and Geronimo Allison; the two former Illinois football players were signed as undrafted free agents in May by the Colts and Packers, respectively.

Unfortunately, the game was cancelled due to hazardous conditions on the field. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the playing surface was "hard as concrete," and the painted end zones and midfield logo were tar-like. The NFL and NFLPA released the following joint statement in light of the situation.

Due to safety concerns with the condition of the playing surface in Canton, tonight’s game between the Indianapolis Colts and Green Bay Packers has been cancelled. We are very disappointed for our fans, but player safety is our primary concern, and as a result, we could not play an NFL game on this field tonight.​

While the league absolutely made the right call, this cancellation stings for players like Allison who are trying to make NFL teams. Four quarters of in-game reps can prove invaluable for coaches when it comes time to make player evaluations and roster cuts.

Still, we were treated to a pretty cool photo of the two Illini hanging out on the field. Hopefully they’ll be able to take another when their teams meet in the regular season on November 6! I’m sure Vontae Davis and Hugh Thornton wouldn’t mind photo-bombing it, too.

A photo posted by Joshua Ferguson (@joshua_ferg_) on

Illinois Fighting Illini Links

- Three-star WR Cartrell Thomas includes Illinois in Top 6 (TCR)

The Texas native narrowed his list on Sunday to Illinois, Boise State, Colorado, Texas State, Texas Tech, and Utah. Thomas is the No. 829 overall player in 247Sports’ class-of-2017 composite rankings.

- Four-star SF Terrence Lewis sets date for college decision (TCR)

According to multiple reports, the Milwaukee native will announce his college decision on Tuesday at 5:00pm CT. Lewis previously narrowed his list to Illinois, Iowa State, Marquette, and UNLV.

- What happens if Jordan Goodwin doesn’t commit to Illinois (Illini Board)

Groce wouldn’t be cut out for the job if he hasn’t already mapped out dozens of possible scenarios that could unfold in the next few months, and I’m sure he’s done more than his due diligence.

- Justin Hardee trying to make his mark at Illinois (Herald & Review)

"It’s a blessing to be back out here," Hardee said after a recent practice. "It was a humbling experience to be out for so long. It makes you appreciate the game more."