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Anthony McFarland ‘Lived And Learned’ From 2021 Injury: ‘I Have To Treat My Body Better And Be Even Hungrier Than I Was’

The Pittsburgh Steelers are on the lookout for a number three running back this year. They had four running backs on the roster in 2021, and have brought three back, yet at least one of them is going to have to earn his spot, this time around.

That would be third-year former fourth-round draft pick Anthony McFarland, who hardly played at all last season. While the Maryland product did begin the season on the Reserve/Injured List after suffering a knee injury that required surgery, even when he did return to the 53-man roster, it was hard for him to get a helmet.

McFarland played all of 19 offensive snaps last season across two whole games played. He carried the ball three times and totaled three yards for his efforts. He did catch one pass which he took for 11 yards and a first down. But he’s heading to Latrobe this year with nothing guaranteed—just hopeful that he can stay healthy and hungry for the grind.

Speaking to Chris Adamski recently, he told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter that sitting out with the knee injury was tough, as one would expect, talking about letting not only his teammates but himself down in the process.

“I was just trying to be tunnel-vision. I had so much momentum in myself, staying focused and taking care of my body”, he said. “I put in a lot of work in to see more to where I wanted to be in training camp. So it kind of (stunk) when I found out I had to get surgery”.

“It hurt, but injuries happen and I lived and I learned from that”, he added. “I have to treat my body better and be even hungrier than I was”.

McFarland was placed on the Reserve/Injured List, along with Stephon Tuitt and Zach Banner, on September 1. He was activated back to the 53-man roster on October 27, in time for the seventh game in the eighth week of the year. He did dress in that game, playing seven snaps.

But he remained inactive for all but one more game, that being the 41-10 loss to the Bengals in Week 12, during which he played 12 snaps and recorded three of his four touches on the season. A few weeks later, he would be placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 List and would miss some time because of that, but, again, was a healthy scratch when he returned.

There was some excitement when the Steelers first drafted McFarland because he was a running back with speed, and he also had his best season under Matt Canada while at Maryland. The hope was that Canada would know how best to utilize him and make him an asset to the offense.

Two years into his career, we have hardly even seen a hint of that, but, he has yet another chance to prove himself this summer. Canada should be running something much closer to ‘his’ own offense this year, so perhaps he has something in mind. But the third-year back will be challenged by newcomers in Jaylen Warren and Mataeo Durant for that third roster spot behind Najee Harris and Benny Snell.

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