Sometimes it’s hard to say whether the players are more excited for their own debuts or the fans are. And that even applies to late-round draft picks sometimes if they have generated enough buzz behind them. It’s hard to conceive of anybody except yourself being more excited about something you yourself are doing, but then again, fan is short for fanatic.
The Pittsburgh Steelers did have a debut on Sunday against the Houston Texans, that being of rookie fourth-round running back Anthony McFarland. Drafted out of Maryland, he was intriguing because of the speed that he brings to a running back room full of relative plodders.
McFarland was inactive for the season opener, and dressed in week two, but did not play. In week three, he was in on the second offensive snap of the game. In all, he played 10 snaps and touched the ball seven times—and it would have been eight if he didn’t drop a pass.
“It was definitely exciting, just to really go out there and get my feet wet and just be with the team”, he said in speaking to reporters on Monday. “I just really had fun yesterday. I wasn’t really so nervous because I really just thought about doing it with my teammates, doing it with the guys. It’s a team game, so at the end of the day, I just want to win, and that’s all I care about. So it was good to just go out there and be a part of something”.
The ‘team is greater than the individual’ concept is something that McFarland mentioned multiple times over the course of the interview, talking about how he just wants to be a contributor to something bigger than himself. His efforts did prove to be a positive contributor to the Steelers’ win, beginning with his first touch, a seven-yard run.
“My first carry, I felt pretty good as far as my confidence in my ability to know that I belong”, he said of that play. “Just being out there with the team, it was like a dream come true. It’s been my dream for a long time just being here. Not just being here, but getting on the field and being a part of something and being a part of a team”.
Now that he has gotten on the field, I wouldn’t expect him to be a spectator for any future games. Obviously James Conner is going to see the lion’s share of the work as long as he’s healthy, but McFarland will get some touches from here on out, offering homerun speed out of the backfield that the Steelers have talked about lacking for years after they drafted him.