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Steelers Injury Updates

Speedy Steelers Running Back Nearing Return



Steelers Anthony McFarland
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Anthony McFarland against the San Francisco 49ers on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers running back Anthony McFarland Jr. was feeling like he could play in Week 2, despite swelling in his knee, after a strong season opener in Week 1.

Instead, he ended up on the injured reserve list. What happened?

Well, when the word surgery starts to get thrown around, people can change their outlook pretty quickly.

McFarland was running and running well in Week 1, but if he continued to tear up his knee the way he was, Steelers team doctors feared that he’d need another knee surgery. After seeing first-hand how that can derail a running back’s season earlier in his career, McFarland wanted no parts of that.

Instead, he was told to rest with the hope that his knee would heal and he could avoid another trip under the knife. With McFarland eligible to come off the injured reserve list when the Steelers return from their bye in Week 6, that plan seems to have worked.

“Yep, swelling is gone,” McFarland said on Monday. “I feel good. It was a short-term thing. Didn’t want to play with it and need surgery.”

McFarland now feels that he is ready to go for the team’s Week 6 game against the Los Angeles Rams, which should give the Steelers some stability both at running back, where they’ve played with just two the last two weeks, and at kick returner, where a combination of Calvin Austin III, Desmond King and Gunner Olszewski have fielded kicks in his absence.

McFarland averaged 30.4 yards per return in the opener. Since then, King (22 yards per return) and Olszewski (12 yards per return) have fallen well short of that mark. McFarland could certainly be of service to the Steelers.

“Yeah, I’m on track to get back out there,” McFarland said. “Feeling good.”

Nick Farabaugh provided reporting from Pittsburgh.