One man’s misfortune is another’s opportunity. For Anthony McFarland, he needed plenty of that in front of him to get a chance. But he made the most of it and ran well to help the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Indianapolis Colts Monday night.
Called up to the roster due to RB Jaylen Warren’s hamstring injury and logging significant playing time after Najee Harris battled and then exited with a hamstring injury, McFarland finished Monday with six carries for 30 yards while chipping in two receptions for 12 more.
Speaking with reporters following the win, Mike Tomlin evaluated his performance.
“Ant Mac is a guy always working and waiting for his opportunity,” Tomlin said via the team’s YouTube channel. “He did some things that we saw in team development in the preseason that make him a little bit different than some of the other backs. The things he’s able to do in space, the screen game, the draw game. I just thought he was an asset to us.”
McFarland logged his first snaps in exactly 365 days, last playing on November 28th, 2021, a blowout loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Monday was a different story. He provided a burst and spark and found running lanes while even showing power to churn out a third-and-short conversion.
While he’s struggled to live up to his potential when drafted in the 4th round of the 2019 draft, he enjoyed the best summer of his career earlier this year. He ran well in camp, caught the ball more consistently, and had it not been for Warren being the camp darling, McFarland likely would’ve made the roster. But a lack of broad appeal on special teams and in the pass game sent him to the practice squad.
Still, it was inevitable a Steelers’ running back would get hurt this year, giving McFarland the chance to dress and play. He took advantage of the opportunity Monday night, showcasing his speed, burst, and general playmaking potential. Though he could find himself back on the practice squad for Sunday’s game against Atlanta, Warren isn’t guaranteed to return while Harris’ status is uncertain due to an abdominal injury. McFarland may get promoted again and this time, with some recent NFL tape showing what he can do.