Steelers News

Chargers HC Brandon Staley: Steelers ‘Really Hit On’ Draft Pick Of Najee Harris

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris ranks second in the NFL in rushing attempts and touches. He ranks sixth in rushing yards, and fifth in yards from scrimmage. The general impression is that he has done a lot with a little so far through the first nine games of his career after being drafted in the first round back in April.

He’s impressed his own team, but he’s also opened eyes around the league, and has drawn praise from his opponents. Up next on the schedule for the Steelers is the Los Angeles Chargers, and their head coach, Brandon Staley believes that “they really hit on this back”.

“He’s a really complete back”, he told reporters on Wednesday. “He’s smooth, he can see, he can run with power, he can catch the football out of the backfield. He’s got a physical presence so he’s willing in pass protection. He’s definitely a strength of their football team and he’s one of these young runners that’s making a name for himself in the league”.

Harris has averaged more than 24 rushing attempts over the past five games, producing 92 yards per game on the ground, while also averaging three and a half receptions and another 28 yards through the air, giving him about 120 yards from scrimmage per game over the last five, during which he has scored four times—nearly five, having one score wiped out by a holding penalty this past Sunday.

While his game is not 100 percent complete right now, the rookie out of Alabama has already shown himself to be within the upper echelon of running backs in the league, and with a more well-rounded skillset than most. But what defenses are primarily concerned with is simply getting him on the ground.

“I like Najee’s game. I feel like he’s a big guy, he runs hard, runs strong and I feel like he’s going to have a great career in this league”, said Chargers safety Derwin James. “I mean we gotta come with it, every back we play it’s a tough challenge to bring them down so like I said, he’s another guy that we are going to need everybody around the ball”.

Harris recorded his second-career 100-yard rushing game on Sunday, putting up 105 rushing yards on 26 attempts, while also catching four passes for another 28 yards. He has gone over 100 yards from scrimmage in four of the past five games, and in five of the past seven, including one game in which he recorded more than 100 receiving yards.

It should be obvious by now that teams have to game plan for him. Even of the run-blocking isn’t where the Steelers need it to be, particularly from the offensive line, Harris’ own abilities, more often than not, make it work. That’s why, even when they’re only getting two or three yards on many plays, they can still grind out 30 runs a game.

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