After the Pittsburgh Steelers decided to cut ties Tuesday with running back LeGarrette Blount as a result of him walking off of the field before the end of the Monday night game against the Tennessee Titans, they filled his spot on the roster by promoting running back Josh Harris from the practice squad. Now, with five games left in the season, Harris might have a few chances to show the rest of the teams in the league that he shouldn’t have gone undrafted back in May.
A few weeks after the draft, Harris, who several draft analysts believed was worthy of a late-round selection, took to social media to explain why he thought he was bypassed in all seven rounds. The Wake Forest product said he blamed his old college coaches for him going undrafted as a result of them bad-mouthing him to the staffs of several NFL teams.
Included in his social media finger pointing was a copy of a text message that he had received from former Wake offensive coordinator Steed Lobotzke. In that message Lobotzke vouched for Harris’ character and called him a good leader and role model for the other Wake Forest players.
Even though Harris finished his career at Wake Forest with a total of 489 carries, 2,230 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns, he wasn’t invited to the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine. He did, however, get to work out for scouts at his Pro Day even though inclement weather made it tough for him to perform like he wanted to.
“The weather was so miserable that you couldn’t even get your legs warm enough to perform at your peak,” Harris said after his workout. “It was sort of unfair to compare our numbers to other prospects, but I guess that’s just the luck of the draw.”
Poor weather and all, Harris still felt like he showed the scouts in attendance what they came to see.
“My performance went great,” he said. “Several scouts had me running the 40-yard dash in 4.28 seconds but the NFL Network reported me at a 4.46. So I was upset about that.”
Now that Harris has been promoted to the Steelers 53 man roster, it’s almost certain that he will dress during for the post-bye game against the New Orleans Saints. While he’s not known as being a strong special teams player, he might be asked to cover kicks while serving as a backup to starter Le’Veon Bell. He might even see a carry or three in the game as well.
Whatever may or may not led to Harris going undrafted is now in the rear-view mirror. Whatever his former coaches did or didn’t say about Harris didn’t stop the Steelers from signing him during training camp. In addition, he never would have been signed to the practice squad at the start of the season if the Steelers coaches didn’t believe in his potential.
Harris now has an opportunity to show that he permanently belongs in the NFL and it’s up to him to run with that opportunity along with a football firmly tucked underneath his arm. If he fails to impress at running with both, he won’t be able to blame the coaches or weather this time.