Steelers Activate 2nd-Year Running Back, Place Defensive Tackle on IR

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. has missed all of this season with a torn MCL, an injury recently revealed to be “an old tear (from college) and then a new tear.” But he might see his first action of the year against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday October 31, as the Steelers placed him on the active roster on Wednesday.

During his press conference on Tuesday October 26, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said, “I’m anticipating us activating (McFarland). I think this week’s work will determine if there is a role, and if there is, what that role is.”

The reason for Tomlin’s sense of anticipation was that the Steelers faced a deadline for activating McFarland. He was designated to return from injured reserve on October 6, starting a 21-day window for the Steelers to add him to the roster. If the team had failed to do so, he would have been required to miss the remainder of the 2021 season.


Steelers Place Carlos Davis on Injured Reserve

To make room for McFarland on the roster, the Steelers added second-year defensive tackle Carlos Davis to the injured reserve list. At a minimum, Davis must miss the next three games—at Cleveland, and then at home against the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions.

There had been speculation that the Steelers might release a running back to make room for McFarland, with the choices being: third-year running back Benny Snell Jr., who has just eight carries for 21 yards this season; or third-stringer Kalen Ballage, who has six carries for 15 yards and has played a very limited role on special teams (19% of the team’s snaps), per Pro Football Reference (PFR). This as compared to Snell, who has been a part of 68% of Pittsburgh’s special teams snaps this season, according to PFR.

But as noted in the above link from Steelers.com, the team also released practice squad running back Jaylen Samuels on Wednesday. That leaves the Steelers without a tailback on the practice squad, though fullback Trey Edmunds remains in the fold.

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Ex-Steelers Guard Rashaad Coward Has Tryout

In other recent news, on Tuesday former Steelers offensive guard Rashaad Coward had a tryout with the New York Jets, as noted by NFL reporter Aaron Wilson.

The Steelers released Coward on October 9, but he quickly found a new home with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who inked him on October 12. But the Jaguars terminated his contract only a week later, hence his recently-resumed job search.

The Steelers originally signed Coward in late March 2021, with the news of the deal coming via an online gamer/Green Bay Packers fan.


Steelers Protect 4 Practice Squad Players

In one final bit of administrative news from Tuesday afternoon, the Steelers announced the four practice squad players they have chosen to protect this week.

Two of the players—edge rusher Taco Charlton and safety Karl Joseph—are former first-round picks. The other two are wide receivers, namely former Memphis product Anthony Miller and ex-Kansas Jayhawk Steven Sims.


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