Steelers RB Talks Injury That Landed Him on IR: ‘It Wasn’t From a Play’

Anthony McFarland Jr

Joe Sargent/Getty Images Anthony McFarland of the Pittsburgh Steelers carries the ball against the Detroit Lions on August 21, 2021.

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Anthony McFarland Jr. experienced only modest success during his rookie season in 2020, contributing 33 carries for 113 yards and catching six passes for 54 yards and a touchdown. But this offseason he looked poised to take his game to the next level, and early in training camp he was penciled in as the primary backup to first-round pick Najee Harris. So it was a “tough” blow, as he told the media on Friday, when he suffered a knee injury that forced him to begin the 2021 season on injured reserve.

An MRI Revealed a Torn MCL

“It’s real tough just because it happened right before the season started,” McFarland elaborated, before revealing that he suffered a torn MCL. He doesn’t even know how the injury occurred, just that he “felt it” during a practice, which prompted the Steelers to order a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.

“It wasn’t from a play or anything,” he said. “It was something I had from college, an old tear and then a new tear.”

Regardless, the injury temporarily derailed all the work he put in to take a big step forward during his sophomore campaign.

“I really felt like I did a lot in the offseason to make sure I became a better player than my rookie season,” he said on Friday. “It kinda sucked for it to happen before the season.”

While McFarland stopped short of predicting a return to action on Sunday Oct. 17 vs. the Seattle Seahawks, he says his knee “feels normal,” and that he’s mostly trying to knock off the rust from missing the preseason finale and the first five games of the 2021 regular-season.

A Roster Deadline Looms

That said, McFarland figures to return for the Oct. 31 game at Cleveland, as he was designated to return from injured reserve on Oct. 6, starting a 21-day window for the Steelers to add him to the 53-man roster. Otherwise, he will be required to remain on injured reserve for the rest of the season.

As for his role in the offense, McFarland indicated he’s open to all possibilities.

“Wherever they need me,” he said. “Obviously, Najee (Harris) is a good back. He can do it all. But a lot of guys in the (running) back room can do it all. So, like I said, wherever they want to put me and wherever I can contribute just to help the team win.”

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Rayme Olsavsky Died on Friday Morning

In very sad news, the wife of Steelers inside linebackers coach Jerry Olsavsky died on Friday Oct. 15.

Olsavsky, 54, has been part of Mike Tomlin’s coaching staff since 2010. He played inside linebacker for the Steelers for nine seasons (1989-97) after the organization selected him in the tenth round of the 1989 NFL Draft (No. 258 overall). During that time he appeared in 108 games (with 37 starts) and recorded 222 total tackles.

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