It might not be pretty, but whatever the Pittsburgh Steelers are asking rookie running back Najee Harris to do week-to-week, it’s working.
Sitting at 5-3 and riding a four-game winning streak, the Steelers’ offense is starting to find its identity, which revolves around the rookie running back who is quickly developing into a top-tier running back in the NFL.
Ahead of the Week 10 matchup at Heinz Field against the 0-8 Detroit Lions, Harris continues to receive a ton of attention nationally. After moving up to No. 7 in the weekly RB Index that nine-year NFL running back Maurice Jones-Drew puts together for NFL.com, Harris remains locked into the top 10 at the position in MJD’s eyes, staying at No. 7 overall after a decent showing against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football.
“Tied for the fourth-most scrimmage yards among running backs heading into Week 10, Harris has given the Steelers’ offense balance and helped control the clock, playing a major role in the team’s four-game win streak,” Jones-Drew writes. “On pace for 404 touches this season, he’s taken on a massive role as the centerpiece of Pittsburgh’s attack in Year 1.”
Harris remains on pace to become just the third rookie running back in NFL history to surpass 400 touches in his first year in the league, which would put him in company with Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson and Edgerrin James. That number seems exceedingly high at this point in today’s NFL, and the overall history of health at the running back position.
That said, if there’s any running back in the NFL right now not named Derrick Henry that seems built for 400+ touches in a season, it’s Harris, who is about as durable as they come.
It’s pretty remarkable to see Harris – in an offense that struggles to put up points on a consistent basis and move the football at a consistent pace — earn such high praise from the national media, placing him in the same conversation as Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook and Green Bay’s Aaron Jones.