The 2020 Running Back Room

By. Jonathan Clark


The running back room was a spot that many had their eyes on entering the 2020 season. With Pro Bowler James Conner, Benny Snell Jr, Jaylen Samuels and newcomer, rookie Anthony McFarland Jr. being added to the roster, it was clear to Steeler fans that this position has some depth to it. James Conner was clearly the lead back going into the year after being shown support from head coach Mike Tomlin, but we have seen a lot more of a mix between Conner and Snell Jr over these past couple of weeks.

Now yes, it has only been a whopping 2 games, but both of these running backs have impressed over these past games. After being injured during the first half of the game against the New York Giants and only rushing for a total of 6 yards, James Conner countered that performance with 16 carries for 116 yards and a touchdown during this past week’s game against the Denver Broncos. While Benny Snell Jr had a solid performance on Monday Night Football putting up 19 carries for 113 yards and was 4th in the league in rushing after week one. Snell did have a disappointing performance against Denver rushing for just 5 yards and 3 carries after being pulled from the game after an almost costly fumble. But it is clear that he is in the future plans for the Steelers.

Where does that leave the other two? There has been a lot of hype surrounding rookie RB out of the University of Maryland Anthony McFarland Jr going into the first game of the season. There were many reports in camp stating that he was impressing daily and showing he belongs in this league. McFarland’s main struggles coming out of college were that he struggled blocking in the passing game and his height obviously not being average for a RB in this league. He stands at 5’9 198 pounds and is already at a disadvantage in the blocking game, but McFarland makes up for all of that with his speed and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield being one of his strengths. McFarland being inactive for the first game of the year was a bit shocking to me, but McFarland has way too much talent to not touch the football on Sundays. He is a playmaker just waiting for his opportunity. 



Now, where does that leave Jaylen Samuels? I have always been a huge fan of Samuels. He has a great ability of catching the ball out of the backfield and making plays after the catch. Jaylen has proved that he can contribute to the running game effectively, stepping up in years past for James Conner when he was out due to injury. Samuels belongs in this league, there is no doubt about that. Will it continue to be with the Steelers? I’m not sure.

To me. McFarland and Samuels are the same type of backs. They are both great compliments to the big bruising backs of Snell and Conner. There just doesn’t seem to be enough room for both of these guys to have long term futures with this team. I think the Steelers will try to incorporate McFarland more into the picture once the season starts to get more and more underway, which means less carries for Jaylen Samuels who would normally be the go to guy in these positions. I just think that McFarland just has way too much pure speed and talent to just keep on the sideline, and with him being locked up with the team for 3 more years after this one, it’s easy to see him being a huge part of this team even after just this one season. I honestly hope the Steelers can find a way to give both these guys their deserved touches, we just might have too much talent at that position to do so.


Do you think the Steelers have enough talent at the RB position? Let us know what you think!


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