Rookie Anthony McFarland Jr. didn't have to wait long to get his first taste of the NFL, having six carries for 42 yards in his NFL debut against the Houston Texans in Week 3.
"It was exciting to go out there and get my feet wet," said McFarland the day after the game. "I just really had fun. I wasn't nervous because I thought about doing it with my teammates, the guys. It's a team game. It was good to be out there and be a part of something.
"My adrenaline was pumping because I was excited. I was just ready to go. Just being out there with the team was a dream come true. All I could think about when I got my first carry was be decisive."
McFarland, the Steelers first pick in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft out of Maryland, was the guy the offense went to coming out of halftime of that game, and Coach Mike Tomlin said he earned that opportunity.
Take a look at photographs of Steelers RB Anthony McFarland Jr. from the 2020 season
"He has merited more playing time," said Tomlin in his weekly press conference proceeding the game. "He has had some really good practices. This is a difficult environment for young guys to establish themselves and get the type of feel that you are willing to play him and play him a lot.
"Without preseason games the process might be a little bit more cumbersome for him. He has continually worked hard and earned the opportunity that he got. I am sure we're going to continue down that road with he and others."
McFarland didn't see extended playing time in 2020, but when he was in the lineup, he made the most of it. He finished the season with 33 carries for 113 yards, a 3.4-yard average while playing in 11 games. He also added six receptions for 54 yards, a 9-yard average.
McFarland leaned heavily on the Steelers other running backs this year, especially James Conner who showed him what it takes to be a professional.
"The things he teaches me, how to take care of your body so you can perform well," said McFarland. "I always say I am not a follower, but when I see somebody who goes about their business, I follow them because at the end of the day I want to be where they are."
McFarland, who played college football at the University of Maryland, said he loved the family vibe he felt playing for the Steelers this year.
"The Steelers are a great organization," said McFarland. "Anybody that played football as a kid growing up, growing up watching the Steelers it's a great vibe. Not just on the field but off the field. It's a family-oriented organization. That is what I love about it. When we are on the field it feels like it. It's a great place to be. A great area."
INDIVIDUAL GAME HIGHLIGHTS
• 9/27 vs Houston: Made his NFL debut...rushed 6 times for 42 yards and added 1 catch for 7 yards.
• 11/8 at Dallas: Rushed 3 times for 7 yards and caught 2 passes for 15 yards.
• 12/2 vs Baltimore: Rushed 3 times for 9 yards and caught 1 pass for 17 yards.
• 12/7 vs Washington: Rushed 4 times for 15 yards.
• 1/3 vs Cleveland: Rushed 5 times for 17 yards.