In Sunday’s press conference, Ben Roethlisberger said he tells Najee Harris to run like The Bus. A downhill, physical, impose-your-will type of runner. Harris is doing Roethlisberger one better. Speaking to reporters Friday, Harris says he’s spoken with Jerome Bettis in the past and has reached out to him in the hopes of studying some tape together the next time Bettis is in the Steel City.
“I actually reached out to him actually,” Harris told reporters via audio provided by the team. “Whenever he comes back down here, we’re going to watch film together just so he can give me some keys of what to do better. That’s really what I’m most excited about right there.”
Similar to Bettis, Harris was blessed with size and quick feet. Their body types are overall different, Harris has very little body fat and Bettis had, uh, more, but both were among football’s biggest backs. And Harris is trying to play like it. Something Roethlisberger preached after the game.
“I keep telling [Najee], get physical,” he said following the Packers’ loss. You’re big, be big, play big, run through tackles. Don’t avoid contact, make contact. Be scary. I got to play with Jerome. Jerome created contact. It was a game-changer when he ran people over. I keep trying to reiterate that to him.”
Harris has certainly more than flashed his power through the first four weeks of the season. According to PFF, he leads the league with 27 missed tackles forced so far, serving as the team’s bell cow as its leader in carries, receptions, and snaps by a skill player.
Harris went on to tell reporters before he ever spoke with Bettis, he watched him on Sundays.
“I watched him whenever he played, when I was young. I like Jerome. I spoke to Jerome lots of times. He’s a cool dude just as a person, I like him but I like watching his tape.”
Bettis was a force his first year in the NFL. With the Rams in 1993, he ran for over 1400 yards and seven touchdowns, winning Offensive Rookie of the Year. Hopefully Harris can write a similar story, minus everything else that came afterwards with Bettis’ time in LA that eventually led to his trade to the Steelers in 1996.