McFarland taking it one day at a time

It's not the way he anticipated spending his first few weeks as a Steelers' rookie.

Anthony McFarland thought he would be headed to Pittsburgh last week for the team's rookie minicamp, three days of on-field drills and getting his first taste of the NFL.

Instead the running back from Maryland, who was one of the team's fourth round selections, is living in a virtual world, taking part in a virtual rookie minicamp, interacting with his fellow rookies and hearing from his coaches.

"I am going on Facetime, meeting my coach, going over things I need to know," said McFarland. "I am getting ready for everything, doing what I would be doing even though it is virtual. It's a valuable time. I am learning. I am willing to learn. I am stepping into something totally different than college. It's like getting a step ahead before we report, whenever that is.

"I am taking it one day at a time. Anything my coaches give me virtually. I am looking at it. I want to make sure I know everything I need to know. When it is time to go, I will be ready.

"You want to be there with your coach in person, have them show you how to do things on the field. At the end of the day it doesn't affect too much. I am still going to be learning a lot as we move forward. It will just be like learning in the classroom with the coaches. I feel like everything is going well right now."

But McFarland is ready for the next step. He can't wait to get into the Steelers running back room and work with players whose careers he has followed, including James Conner and Benny Snell.

"Looking at the backs, watching them for a long time, I watched some of them when I was in college," said McFarland. "Everyone brings something different to the table. I hope to come in and have the trust and support of them. I am going to work hard. I will do everything I can to be a part of the team and make the team."

McFarland finished his Maryland career with 1,648 rushing yards in just two seasons, ranking 21st overall in school history. He ranks ninth in school history with six 100-yard games.

In 2018 he broke the Maryland freshman rushing record with 1,034 yards, an average of 7.9 yards per carry. But he also is capable of helping out in the passing game, and his acceleration, decisiveness and ability to cut all add to his overall game.

"I take a lot of pride in being versatile," said McFarland. "I think if you want to play this game you have be versatile to be valuable to a team. That always stuck in my mind. My dad taught me as a kid to learn as much as I can on the field. When that time comes, you will be able to pick it up and be ready."

In 2019 being ready was a little tougher on him. He had 114 rushing attempts for 614 yards, scoring eight touchdowns. His season was hampered by an ankle injury he suffered Week 2 against Temple that didn't let up as the season went on, even though he missed only one game, a sign of the toughness he brings to his game.

"That is something that has always been important to me," said McFarland. "You aren't always going to play this game at 100 percent. When I had that injury last year it affected me, but I didn't let it affect me so that I couldn't get back on the field. I wanted to show my teammates I could do it.

"I love this game. I love my teammates and I always want to win. That is always on my mind. Anybody who knows me, who had been around me for a long time, knows that I love football. They can tell the passion I have for it. I love to compete. I am a competitor.

"Over the years some people might have looked at me as being frustrated, an angry player. My frustration has always been wins and losses. I am a winner. I love to win. In football you always have to be on the same page. It's a team sport. There is no individual in it."