Steelers News

Ben Roethlisberger ‘Excited’ To See What Anthony McFarland Can Bring To Offense In Second Season

The Pittsburgh Steelers announced just earlier today that they have activated second-year running back Anthony McFarland from the Reserve/Injured List to the 53-man roster. He had been on reserve since the beginning of the season, meaning that he is now eligible to make his 2021 debut.

It’d be exciting”, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told reporters earlier today, about getting him back on the field. “I think he was doing some really good stuff before he got hurt. Excited to see what he can bring to us. People who have been out here and seen him have seen a guy that has got a little burst, a guy that maybe can add a little something extra to this offense. We’re all excited to see if that’s what’s gonna transpire from that”.

A fourth-round pick out of Maryland in 2020, McFarland contributed only sparsely as a rookie, recording just 39 touches on the season for 169 yards. He did look to be in over his head at times, as a young player who did not benefit from having a proper offseason a year ago due to the pandemic, which Roethlisberger acknowledged “probably” hurt him.

“He’s already a young guy something out; I think he left a little bit early”, he said of McFarland, who had two years of eligibility left when he declared for the draft. “This sport is with a lot of grown men. The speed is different. If you just look at him, you can see that his body’s different. I think he took the offseason to really spend time getting his body and his mind right. You don’t see the mistakes that maybe last year he was making as a rookie. I’m excited to get him on the field”.

The Steelers did not displace a running back on the 53-man roster in order to add McFarland, it should be noted, so both Kalen Ballage and Benny Snell remain as the reserves behind rookie starter Najee Harris, and there is no guarantee that he will immediately dress for games.

And even if he does, it’s hard to say what role he might have. Harris, their first-round draft pick, has played 86 percent of the Steelers’ offensive snaps so far this season, a number that only really dipped because he was unable to close out the game against the Denver Broncos due to cramping.

They have been trying to work in the other running backs a bit more over the past few weeks, however, as they have begun to have more success on the ground, and thus are able to run the ball a bit more. McFarland’s speed can add something that the other backs cannot, though, so I suspect they will want to get him involved.

And it doesn’t hurt that he played under offensive coordinator Matt Canada at Maryland, a fact that we have been noting since before he was even drafted. It looked like they had plans to get him involved based on what was seen in training camp and the preseason, so I would expect him to dress.

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