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Johnson, McFarland return to practice, open their 21-day window

The Pittsburgh Steelers got some welcomed reinforcements on Monday’s bonus practice as wide receiver Diontae Johnson and running back Anthony McFarland Jr. have now been designated to return from the Reserve/Injured List (IR).

Although both players returned to practice, they have not been placed back on the Steelers 53-man roster. Instead, their 21-day window to return to the roster has begun. If either player is not placed on the 53-man roster within the next three weeks, they would be ineligible to return for the 2023 NFL season, much like what happened to Calvin Austin III in 2022 when he suffered a setback during his 21-day window.

Last week, Diontae Johnson spoke to the Steelers media and said he was ready to return and feeling 100%. Expecting Johnson to return to practice on Wednesday, taking the field for Monday’s bonus practice could land each player back on the 53-man roster before the Steelers Week 7 matchup in Los Angeles against the Rams.

Missing the last four games, both players were injured the first week of the 2023 season and replaced on IR ahead of Week 2. Johnson’s injury occurred early in the second half of the Steelers opening game where McFarland‘s knee issue popped up following the game.

For the season, Diontae Johnson has only played 27 offensive snaps where he has three receptions on six targets for 48 yards. As for Anthony McFarland, he has played five offensive snaps as well as seven special team snaps in 2023 and has zero rushing attempts but has two receptions for 11 yards and three kick returns for 91 yards.

For those who may be curious about defensive captain Cam Heyward, who is technically eligible to come off IR after missing four games, his recovery from sports hernia surgery is believed to still be a few more weeks.

Although they were both eligible to return to the lineup this week, the Steelers will have to make the roster move by Saturday at 4 PM for either player to be able to play in Week 7. While the Steelers could go ahead and make the roster move at this time if they are confident in their return, there is really no need to do so as they technically have two extra players to participate in practice in their preparation for Sunday’s game.

Stay tuned to Steel Curtain Network’s continued coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers as they come out of their bye week and prepare to face the Rams this Sunday in Los Angeles.


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