Last season, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Alvester Alexander made the team’s eight-man practice squad out of training camp. While that’s not earth-shatter news, you have to remember that the former undrafted free agent wasn’t even signed to the roster until August 7.
This year, with Alvester starting off training camp on the PUP list with a groin injury, newly signed running back Josh Harris now has an opportunity to show that he is worthy of at least a practice squad spot for the upcoming season.
Harris, a Wake Forrest product, is probably best known right now for accusing his former college coaches on Twitter following the 2014 NFL Draft of sabotaging his character during the pre draft process. He believes that is what ultimately led to him going undrafted after some draftniks projected he’d be selected on day-three.
Not only did Harris go undrafted, he wasn’t even signed as a free agent until the Steelers inked him earlier this week. It should be noted, however, that the Dallas Cowboys did invite Harris, along with 14 other undrafted players, to their rookie mini camp as a tryout player, but ultimately chose not to sign him.
Harris, who finished his college career with a total of 489 carries, 2,230 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns, showed well at his March pro day, registering a 4.46-second 40-yard dash time, 35 1/2-inch vertical jump and 7.0 three-cone drill time with 28 reps on the bench. Based on those stats and measurables, it really does make you wonder why it took so long for him to find an NFL team willing to sign him.
Even though he was the new man on the Saint Vincent campus Wednesday, Harris did get to show the coaches what he could do during his first practice with team. While he didn’t receive a lot of reps, our very own Alex Kozora was impressed with the little work that he was given.
“Josh Harris received just four carries in Wednesday’s practice but I saw some explosiveness and change of direction in his game,” said Kozora of the newest Steeler. “He had arguably the second nicest run of the day. In terms of pure ability, he already looks more promising than current backup running backs Miguel Maysonet or Jordan Hall.”
It’s hard to draw any firm conclusions and make any predictions based on four carries during one practice, but the longer that Alexander and starting running back Le’Veon Bell are both sidelined with injuries, Harris is sure to see more work during practices moving forward as long as he is picking up the playbook quickly.
There’s an outside chance that the Steelers will keep four running backs on their 53 man roster to start the season and should that indeed wind up being the case, Harris has as good of a shot as any other young and unproven running back currently on the roster, including Alexander, at earning that fourth potential spot.
As for what eventually led to Harris going undrafted and subsequently unsigned for all of this time, if it was indeed because of him having a poor work ethic and being a bad apple in the locker room, like he claims his former coaches told NFL teams, it won’t take long for the Steelers to find that out. In other words, he could be gone just as quick as he arrived.
How long will Harris be in Latrobe? Right now, it looks like that’s entirely up to him. At least he finally has an opportunity.