Although he does have a small and somewhat vocal contingent in his favor, by and large, from my observations, it seems that the majority has dismissed the prospect of running back Josh Harris making the 53-man roster in 2015. I would even include myself in this group, perhaps.
The logic is there, I think. Harris, a second-year former undrafted free agent, received only a small handful of touches last year with minimal success. His only run of quality was called back due to a holding penalty.
Instead of allowing him to start the playoff game against the Ravens, the Pittsburgh Steelers chose to sign veteran running back Ben Tate and put him on the field to start out the first series. He only gained more carries, perhaps, because Tate ended up fumbling. It was actually Dri Archer who had the most snaps among the running backs in a stable that suffered from the glaring absence of Le’Veon Bell.
During this offseason, the front office made it a priority to find a more attractive option than Harris to be Bell’s backup, hosting and immediately signing veteran DeAngelo Williams, who figures to feature prominently in the offense in the rare instances in which Bell is not on the field.
There will likely be very little left for another running back to even be on the roster, and would perhaps even be a game day inactive behind Bell, Williams, and Archer. From that perspective, the prospects for Harris are already slim.
Add in the fact that this is one of the better draft classes for running backs in recent years in terms of top to bottom depth and the temptation of taking advantage of the ability to acquire a quality back late in the fact, and one has to wonder if Harris could overcome the competition.
But the Steelers have not dismissed Harris from their plans by any means. He is by all indications a very hard worker and a quality locker room presence, as those who follow him on social media can attest.
Offensive coordinator Todd Haley recently spoke about the backup running back situation behind Bell, which is important this season given the starter’s likely two-game suspension to start the season.
Speaking to a fan forum, Haley began by discussing the addition of Williams and what he will bring to the table, expressing excitement to have him, but he added that he is “also excited about the guys who have been here like Josh Harris and Dri Archer”.
Haley believes that Harris will help bring out the best of the running back group by providing competition. He said that “it will make for a very interesting offseason and training camp to see how it plays out”.
Still, things can change dramatically and instantly on draft day. It’s easy to speak about Harris’ potential future in March, but I find it hard to imagine that there is a place for him on this team if the Steelers do end up drafting a running back within the first five rounds.