Guess what, folks. It’s training camp time. And that means it’s time for training camp questions. For the first time since 2019, the Pittsburgh Steelers are actually back at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe after having been forced to remain in Pittsburgh, where they held their past two training camps inside of the Field Formerly Known as Heinz.
Even though the Steelers are back on very familiar ground, more specifically on that of Chuck Noll Field, this is a training camp that is unusually full of certainty. After all, they haven’t had a genuine quarterback battle in a couple of decades, but they have one now with Mitch Trubisky, Kenny Pickett, and Mason Rudolph.
We’ve got yet another new offensive line, with some incoming veterans in James Daniels and Mason Cole. Myles Jack is in at inside linebacker, replacing Joe Schobert, and we’ll have to see if Devin Bush can return to form after last year’s dismal display.
There’s still so much going on, and training camp will only create more questions as we go along, even as it starts to provide some answers. We’ll be covering them here on a daily basis for the community to “talk amongst yourselves”, as Linda Richman might say on Coffee Talk.
Question: Is Jeremy McNichols the favorite to be the number three running back?
Just because training camp began, the Steelers made a change in their running back room, cutting Trey Edmunds and signing Jeremy McNichols. A 2017 fifth-round draft pick, McNichols has bounced around through quite a bit of the league, with Pittsburgh being his ninth different team. It wasn’t until the past two seasons that he found a home with the Tennessee Titans.
During the past two seasons, he has logged 540 snaps on offense, recording 88 carries for 360 yards and one touchdown. He has also caught 40 passes for 295 yards and another touchdown, giving him 128 touches in Tennessee for 655 yards and two scores.
I write that out because, frankly, it’s the only resume behind Najee Harris and Benny Snell Jr. that amounts to anything. Anthony McFarland Jr. is a third-year former fourth-round draft pick by the Steelers, but he’s done virtually nothing thus far. And the other backs are college free-agent rookies, Mataeo Durant and Jaylen Warren.
Obviously, a rookie college free agent is almost never going to be a favorite to win a job, outside of specialist jobs, at the start of training camp, but is McNichols more likely to make the roster than is McFarland?
It took him a few years to find his feet, so it would only be fair to allow McFarland the same leeway. He began the 2021 season on the Physically Unable to Perform List due to injury, and was never really able to get on the moving train, as head coach Mike Tomlin would say. Plus, there were just no opportunities behind Harris.