Pittsburgh Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick knew quite a bit about rookie running back Najee Harris well before the team selected him in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft as they both were teammates for one season in college at Alabama. With Harris now well into his first NFL training camp as a member of the Steelers, Fitzpatrick was asked to give a progress report on the team’s rookie running ack during his Monday afternoon interview with Missi Matthews of steelers.com.
“Man, I love Najee, man,” Fitzpatrick told Matthews. “He’s a great dude at heart. He’s a hard worker. He’s in the facility all day. You know what I’m saying? Trying to get better. You know he’s never going down on the first tackle. His contact balance is ridiculous.”
Harris was a freshman at Alabaman during Fitzpatrick’s final season there so once again, you can bet he knew quite a bit about the rookie running back long before the Steelers drafted him.
So far this offseason, Harris has been exactly as advertised. He’s a powerful back and one that doesn’t shy away from contact at all. Steelers inside linebacker Marcus Allen, who has had to go against Harris in a few drills so far in training camp, attested to the fact a few days ago that the rookie running back is every bit of the 240 pounds he’s currently listed at.
“Najee, he doesn’t duck no bump,” Allen said after the team’s Saturday training camp practice. “He’s 240 for sure. He’s strong and I mean it’s a great bump to go against iron on iron.”
The Steelers are likely expecting Harris to be their iron man of a running back in 2021 and that’s indeed the case, the Alabama product could easily register 300 total touches as a rookie. Will his first of many 2021 game touches start Thursday night in the Steelers preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys? We’ll find out soon enough if he’ll be bumping around that 240-pound body of his in Canton, OH. If he does play against the Cowboys, you can bet Fitzpatrick will make sure he has a good vantage point of his former Alabama teammate on the Steelers’ sideline.
“He’s a guy I’m real excited to have on our team,” Fitzpatrick told Matthews.