November 27, 2022

If you’ve listened to my Thursday Terrible Take, you already have an idea of ​​what I’m writing today. If there’s anyone who should be grateful for Monday night’s game against the Indianapolis Colts, it might be RB Anthony McFarland. RB rookie Jaylen Warren is out with a hamstring injury and looks unlikely to play in the Week 12 game. And that could open the door for McFarland to have one last chance to prove what he can offer. a list.

Assuming Warren doesn’t play, the Steelers will need a third running back on the roster. They’re not going into a game with just two, ie Najee Harris and Benny Snell, so an elevation makes the most sense. Three running backs are currently on Pittsburgh’s practice squad: new Master Teague, Jason Huntley and McFarland. Teague flashed over the summer but is unlikely to rise that quickly after being brought back while Huntley is an option but less likely to be promoted than McFarland. McFarland has the NFL and Steelers experience to make him a logical call-up for a game.

Since being drafted in the fourth round of the 2019 draft, it’s been a tough road for him. A red-shirted sophomore in college who, predictably, looked unprepared for his freshman year, dealing with the 2020 pandemic, followed by an MCL injury in 2021 that required surgery and essentially ended his season before it started. McFarland returned to the roster at the end of the year but barely played, a total afterthought as Najee Harris dominated the backfield touches.

McFarland had a good training camp this year, showing his speed and spark that made him the Steelers’ pick years ago. Here’s what we wrote about him after the summer.

“To his credit, McFarland had a solid start to camp in Game 1, showing improved vision and consistency as a runner. He’s still one of the few to stay healthy wire-to-wire and he’s improved as a receiver, making tough catches on wheel/vertical routes. He finished camp with 108 receiving yards.

As the Steelers tease every year, OC Matt Canada has used McFarland in numerous pony groups, two sets of running backs, using McFarland as a wing on jet runs and fakes. If he were to be raised to 53 for Monday night, there could be a minor role for him to do the same, especially since the Steelers only have two viable receivers in Diontae Johnson and George Pickens. Steven Sims and Gunner Olszewski did next to nothing after the Chase Claypool trade. In the Week 11 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, they played a total of 63 two-pass snaps on five targets, both of which were by Olszewski in the Steelers’ final practice. The Steelers need to get more creative with their staffing groups and 3-5 shots of McFarland because an early return and/or used in Pony packages are worth it.

After Monday, there may be no more opportunities for him. Warren could be back by Week 13, which would eliminate any chance for McFarland to recover. And I’m not claiming that Monday will be an incredible opportunity for him. Unless injured, he is always online to play only a few shots. But an opportunity certainly isn’t worth an opportunity and he needs to save not just for the Steelers but for the rest of the league to try to keep his NFL hopes more than moot.

Obviously, what McFarland does or doesn’t do on Monday night won’t determine the outcome of the game. Of all the things to think about when screening this game, it’s pretty much last on the list. But for him on a personal level, it’s a very important game. This could be his last shot and he must make the most of it.

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