Coming out of the University of Alabama, Pittsburgh Steelers’ rookie running back Najee Harris wasn’t used to doing a lot of losing.
As a member of the Steelers as a first round draft pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, that was expected to continue for the star running back, but the Steelers had a rough three-week stretch where they lost three games in a row before bouncing back Sunday against the Denver Broncos.
Going through that adversity as a rookie with a relatively young team like the Steelers currently have is something that Harris believes has the Steelers on the right track moving forward with a Sunday Night Football tilt against the Seattle Seahawks on deck before a much-needed bye week in Week 7.
Speaking with reporters in his weekly media availability Friday afternoon, Harris stated that he feels that the Steelers learned a lot about themselves in the last month or so, which will make them better in the long run.
“Well, the first five, six weeks, there has been…a lot of, a lot of ups and downs,” Harris said, according to Steelers.com. “But what I’m really excited about is we’re really molding together, finding out what type of team we are and we’re seeing some of stuff that we’ve got to work on. We don’t want to lose games, but I always tell myself that there’s some things losing can teach you that winning never can. I look at a loss as a win sometimes because it’s a learning point for the team and a learning point of what we need to work on.”
In that three-game losing streak, the Steelers really learned that they needed to get Harris more involved in the passing game, and really needed to start establishing the run and taking some of the workload and pressure to move the offense off of Ben Roethlisberger’s right arm, considering it couldn’t truly be a pass-first offense anymore.
That worked in Week 5 against the Broncos as Harris had a career day, rushing for 122 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries, adding a successful run rate of 69.9%.
Part of the process in the losing streak and his adjustment to the NFL has been an enjoyment for Harris, who says that learning and growing with this group of guys has been enjoyable so far in the Steel City.
“We really found out a lot about each other these past couple of weeks,” Harris said. “I feel like you know we’re kind of on track to start changing stuff around. For me it’s all learning points, just steps. Steps we got to get over to start to win. I’m excited to be a part of the team and to learn with these guys too. We’re all just really starting to mold together, so it’s been fun.”
It shouldn’t be a surprise that such a young offense featuring four new starters along the offensive line, a rookie running back and a rookie tight end would take time to gel and figure things out. Now that things seem to be trending in the right direction, it will be interesting to see how the Steelers’ offense continues to develop with Harris as the center of attention on the ground.