You don’t work collaboratively with somebody in a physical environment simply through intuition, especially if you are young and inexperienced individuals. The Pittsburgh Steelers offense is full of such players right now, including four rookie starters, two second-year starters, and a third-year starter.
The run game in particular has had to start from scratch this year, with new linemen, a new running back, a new line coach, and a new play-caller, so it’s no surprise that they’ve been trying to put in extra work to get on the same page. Najee Harris and the other running backs have started meeting weekly with the offensive line to do just that.
“It’s really beneficial, both of us being on the same page with a lot of things, so we can understand, like, what’s my read”, Harris told reporters earlier today. “They wanted to ask me, what is a good way to block this guy on the edge. So I was like, if it’s outside zone, I want you to block in this way, this way, and this way, so we can get on a better page and things, with the tackles and guards, a way to block my read on certain runs so it can be a better fit for me and a better fit for them”.
Harris, the Steelers’ first-round draft pick, has another pair of rookies blocking out in front of him in center Kendrick Green and tackle Dan Moore Jr., both of whom have started every game thus far and played nearly every snap. These meetings have been equally beneficial for them, as well.
Moore talked about some of the positives after practice as well, “just learning what they’re looking at, his keys, his aiming points, his steps, him wanting to know what we’re doing, what our aiming points are, so he can know where combinations are going, and possibly where the hole is going to be before it even opens”.
Harris did say that they didn’t start doing this right away, noting that they began hooking up after the first or second week, but it’s become a regular thing, and the other running backs are involved as well, though Harris may put in extra time—just because that’s what he does.
It’s not just about the run game, either, of course. The running back has to be a part of the pass protection as well. That is an area in which the rookie back admittedly does have to grow still, though it’s more of a pre-snap read matter rather than the physical component of getting a body on a body at this point.