End-of-season player exit meetings are not something that we are often privy to as outsiders of the football world. Generally, we only get a glimpse into that world when a player is asked by a reporter how the meeting went, if the player is willing to discuss it.
Still, it’s not generally a hard concept to grasp, and we have a pretty good feel by now of how Mike Tomlin and his staff likes to operate, and we see all the game film, so it’s not an overly difficult project to simulate. If we were to administer the end-of-season player exit meetings, it might go something like this.
Player: Josh Harris
Position: Running Back
Experience: 1 Year
The Steelers thought that they had found their solid one-two punch at running back during the offseason when they signed free agent LeGarrette Blount to serve as the complementary back to the then emerging Le’Veon Bell. They drafted Dri Archer as a sort of a gadget player, and figured they would round things out with Josh Harris, a more traditional runner, as a practice squad addition.
The Steelers obviously didn’t predict just how much turmoil Blount would ultimately produce behind the scenes, and after an incident in which he walked off the field and essentially walked out on his teammates, the team had no choice but to let him go.
Harris was promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster, but instead of sliding into Blount’s role as a complement, the Steelers instead placed even greater emphasis on keeping Bell out on the field, to the point of which he hardly came off the field.
Harris totaled nine carries in the regular season. Four of them came in week 14; one carry was to spell Bell after a long run, and the other three were in garbage time to grind out the clock in a blowout win. His other five carries came in the season finale after Bell was injured. He averaged 1.8 yards on those nine carries, though he had a long gain taken away during the season finale via a holding call.
It was believed that the Steelers would give Harris the opportunity to start in the Wildcard game with Bell out, but, instead, the first back out there was Ben Tate, whom they just signed. He was a veteran with experience, however, so he got the ball first until he put it on the ground.
Harris ultimately got the most touches out of the group on that day, totaling nine carries for 25 yards and two receptions for six yards. Even though his productivity on a yards per play basis appears woeful, however, he clearly has more potential than that figure suggests.
How much potential is there to be had, though? Do the Steelers believe he could be Bell’s complementary back in 2015? I’m finding that scenario doubtful. Surely the Steelers will add a veteran free agent or a mid-round draft pick, if not both, in order to replenish the running back depth chart.