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Steelers Anthony McFarland Jr.

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Did Steelers RB Anthony McFarland Jr. Do Enough in the Preseason Opener to Secure the RB2 Role?

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Did Steelers RB Anthony McFarland Jr. Do Enough in the Preseason Opener to Secure the RB2 Role?

The Pittsburgh Steelers battle at the coveted QB1 spot has been the biggest topic of discussion all off-season and into the preseason, especially after the race got a lot tighter after the preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks. However, another important position battle is taking place on the offensive side of the ball and it just might have gotten a lot more interesting after an impressive Saturday night performance. Benny Snell, Anthony McFarland Jr., and undrafted rookie Jaylen Warren all seem to have a chance of becoming star RB Najee Harris‘ backup in the upcoming 2022 season.


Steelers Anthony McFarland Jr., Jaylen Warren Dominate 1st Half Against Seahawks In 1st Preseason Action Of 2022


Steelers Jaylen Warren

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Warren (30) during a preseason game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Seattle Seahawks, Saturday, Aug.13, 2022 in Pittsburgh, PA. (Arron Anastasia/ Pittsburgh Steelers)

Both Warren and McFarland Jr. played well in their 2022 preseason debuts. Warren displayed physicality with his 6 carries for 34 rushing yards for a 5.7 yards per carry average on the night. He also added 4 receptions for 30 yards and an impressive score. He showcased his great ability to break tackles, but he also put the ball on the ground. Head Coach Mike Tomlin has preached ball-security for these running backs all off-season and during training camp in Latrobe. It’s just a “non-negotiable.”

“I didn’t like Jaylen putting the ball on the ground,” Tomlin stated after the game. “I appreciate his tackle-breaking and contact balance, but that standard of expectation is non-negotiable. He’s got to get better there. These are good days provided we take care of the ball and we didn’t do that. Thankfully, we got it back. So, we got to get better.”

Warren has to be better with his ball-security or he’ll see his opportunity to make the Steelers 53-man roster slip away quickly. McFarland played well and he didn’t put the ball on the ground. Based on Warren’s fumbling issue Saturday night and Snell not being active due to a knee issue, McFarland Jr. may have just taken the lead for the RB2 spot on the depth chart.


After a Challenging First 2 Seasons, Steelers Potential RB2 Anthony McFarland Jr. has been Explosive in Training Camp


Steelers Anthony McFarland Jr.

Steelers running back Anthony McFarland Jr. breaks into the second level during practice Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022 at Saint Vincent College. Credit: Chaz Palla/Tribune-Review

McFarland Jr. has been taking advantage of extended reps during training camp in Latrobe. He’s demonstrated explosiveness out of the backfield for the Steelers.

“It’s definitely motivation for anybody in the running back room to step up,” McFarland said of Harris’ injury via Trib Live. “It makes you want to compete more, put your head down and work towards that.”

“Coach always says when someone is down, it’s an opportunity for the next man to step up,” McFarland continued. “I feel like we all have that mentality. It’s more reps for us, more of an opportunity to showcase what we can do.”

He’s impressed Harris with his play during training camp thus far.

“Anthony, I think he’s taken a big step,” Harris stated via Trib Live. “In ways, he’s really controlling what role he has. He’s really being explosive and making some explosive runs.”

Steelers Anthony McFarland Jr.

Jordan Schofield/SteelerNation (@JSKO_PHOTO Twitter)

McFarland Jr. continued to impress in his preseason debut by exhibiting some of the explosiveness that Harris spoke about. He finished with 7 carries for 56 yards for an amazing 8 yards per carry average on the night. On an early 3rd and 1, McFarland Jr. showed his wheels on a 24-yard burst. Converting 3rd downs on plays like that are what the Steelers need at the running back position when they want to spell Harris during the regular season. Stay tuned as the competition for RB2 continues.

 

What do yinz think about McFarland Jr.’s impressive 2022 preseason debut? Sound off in the comment section below, or on FacebookTwitter, and/or Instagram!

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Paul Stinebiser

    August 15, 2022 at 11:12 am

    If the Steelers carry four, something’s gotta give. I wonder if Warren and Heyward together makes Derek Watt dispensable.

  2. Pingback: Steelers Waive Injured LB Tuzar Skipper; Sign 3-Year Journeyman James Vaughters For OLB Depth - SteelerNation.com

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