While it hasn’t been the start to his NFL career that many expected, Pittsburgh Steelers’ rookie running back Najee Harris will have even more expectations moving forward as he gains comfort in the NFL as a professional, according to head coach Mike Tomlin.
Speaking with Bob Pompeani Friday for his 84 Lumber Presents the Mike Tomlin Show, the veteran Steelers’ head coach was asked if he’s reasonable to expect more from the first-round running back in the run game and as a receiver moving forward.
TO date, Harris has rushed for just 83 yards on 26 carries, and has added 47 yards and a touchdown through the air on six catches. That’s good for just 130 total yards through two games, which is well below expectations for a guy many viewed as a big part of fixing the run game.
The continued struggles are certainly not on Harris at this point, but Tomlin was quick to point out that it’s fair to expect more from Harris as a runner and receiver as he continues to get comfortable in the NFL.
“Very much so. He’s an example of a young guy that, you know, I’m kind of talking about,” Tomlin said during his show. “I thought he was much more comfortable last weekend than in Week One. And it’s reasonable to expect that just to continue, and as they gain comfort — and by comfort, I mean, just understanding and being in any environment and knowing that your preparation has set you up for performance…I think the more you do it, the more comfortable you get with that understanding. And so I just think that the more he plays, the more he’s going to get comfortable with his preparation, setting him up for performance. And that’s what allows the talent to come out the innate things, the things that you can’t coach.”
The Steelers certainly haven’t lost faith in Harris and continue to remain extremely high on the former Alabama star. As he continues to get comfortable and adjust to the speed an physicality of the NFL, we should be able to see Harris show just what he was in college with the Crimson Tide: a bell-cow running back that creates a ton of explosive plays and really wears down defenses down the stretch.
If he can do that, the Steelers’ offense should be in good shape late in the 2021 season as they hopefully battle for an AFC playoff spot.