The Pittsburgh Steelers are trying to determine who their starting quarterback will be. One thing that is already in place is the Steelers’ top running back.
Najee Harris, who the Steelers took with the 24th overall pick in the 2021 draft, showed his worth as a rookie by registering nearly 1,700 all-purpose yards and 10 total touchdowns which earned him a Pro Bowl nod.
Jeremy Fowler of ESPN has been busy on the trial of a plethora of NFL teams at training camp. When it comes to the Steelers, one thing he mentioned they plan to do is pace Harris back into the fold after his recent injury setback, and he’s on board with the plan.
“I always want to practice, always want to play, but I understand what they are doing,” Harris said. “They want to see the other guys, see what they can do.”
Until Harris returns, the Steelers will get to see what a few former fourth-round picks can do. Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland are entrenched in a battle to be the primary backup to Harris. In 2021, they combined for 101 yards between them, a pedestrian output, to say the least. This is their opportunity to show and prove and earn a bigger role for the 2022 campaign.
Harris suffered a foot injury, and although it’s deemed as minor and he plans to be back in the next week, the Steelers are taking the cautious approach.
This strategy makes a lot of sense for the Steelers. The production from Harris, while great, came at a price. Harris piled up almost 400 touches in 2021 (307 rushes, 74 receptions) which is an extremely high workload. Star runners Derrick Henry, Christian McCaffrey, and Ezekiel Elliott all suffered Manor injuries last season, and they have all been known to have huge workloads themselves in the past.
Running back is a tough position to play because of the constant beating they take every season. They take hits on just about every play, so the more they are used, the greater the chance their careers will be cut a little short. That’s the last thing the Steelers want to do with Harris. Not only is he good, but with the Steelers starting a new era at quarterback, Harris may be needed a lot early on, so monitoring his practice participation is smart.
Feature image via Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports