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: Will Anthony McFarland Jr. put it all together this year (including health) and become a contributor?
When it comes to offensive coordinators in Pittsburgh, at least, the talk always goes far beyond the scope of the reality. Even before Matt Canada, we’ve heard about the importance of matching up to opponents and being multiple and using different players. It doesn’t show up that much in games, though.
I don’t know if this year will be any different—odds are it won’t be—but Anthony McFarland Jr. could be a part of that as somebody who can add speed to the backfield that the position largely otherwise lacks. First, however, he has to make the 53-man roster, and he’s being challenged by a trio of undrafted rookies led by Jaylen Warren.
A fourth-round pick in 2020, McFarland was used scarcely during his own rookie season, and only offered brief flashes here and there. Last season was a near-total write-off after he spent a good portion of the year on the Reserve/Injured List, and when he returned, he was behind and spent most of his time inactive.
Now he’s healthy, and he is flashing more consistently in training camp. He has talked about maturing this offseason, and perhaps he’s finally put everything together that will simply allow him to play football unencumbered by outside concerns.
While the coaching staff has talked about wanting to get other running backs going in the backfield, however, even under the best circumstances, it’s going to be hard to get Najee Harris off the field. He seems only begrudgingly to acknowledge the benefits of himself getting more rest, wanting to be in the game as often as possible.