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Steelers Analysis

New Steelers RB Ready to Step Up in Familiar Place



Steelers Pitt Qadree Ollison

PITTSBURGH — Qadree Ollison is new to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he’s certainly not new to Pittsburgh, and he isn’t new to the Steelers offense, which is why the fifth-year vet will likely be the one to get the call-up with Anthony McFarland Jr. on the shelf on Monday.

Ollison, a 2019 Pitt alum, has played plenty of games at Acrisure Stadium in his career, but the fifth-year pro has yet to appear in an NFL game there. That will likely change this Sunday.

Steelers third-string running back Anthony McFarland Jr. is out this week with a knee injury, and Ollison appears to be in line to replace him as a practice squad call-up. Ollison was in training camp with the Jacksonville Jaguars and has only been with the Steelers for two weeks, but his experience and familiarity with the offense have allowed him to pick things up quickly.

“I feel like I’ve been picking it up fairly well,” he said. “Getting a lot of help from the guys that have been in the offense, you know Najee, Jaylen, Ant. I played for Coach Canada in 2016. It’s a little bit similar, but a lot has changed since then. … The hardest part is having to learn the intricacies or the little details within the plays. I’m picking that up as I go along.”

The Steelers’ other options for the job are fellow practice squad back Greg Bell and tight end Connor Heyward. Bell has zero career carries. Heyward has two. Ollison has 44.

“I just feel like experience helps,” he said. “This is my fifth year in the league, so I’ve played a fairly good amount of football. For the most part, I know how to play the game and I’m experienced. That matters, especially when it comes to special teams. I’m just learning the playbook as fast as I can, getting the coaches to trust me in those situations.”

When the Steelers went into the season with Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren and McFarland as the three backs on the roster, they went with three different types of backs. Harris is big and powerful, Warren is explosive and McFarland is smaller and faster.

Even though he’ll likely be filling in for McFarland on Sunday, what Ollison really provides the team is a true big-back backup to Harris, if he were to go down with an injury.

“We’re both bigger backs,” Ollison said. “Having that mold and looking at those guys, our games are similar. But at the same time, we’ve all got something different.”

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