All Quiet On The Fumble Front 300+ Touches Into Najee Harris’ Career

Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back Najee Harris has recorded 311 touches so far during his rookie season. With three games left to play, he can approach the 400-touch mark—especially if the game circumstances allow for a high volume of work from him.

And yet the most remarkable of his statistics this year is this: zero.

That’s fumbles. He hasn’t put the ball on the ground a single time all season. He hasn’t lost any fumbles. He hasn’t even fumbled. Compare that to other high-volume players. Jonathan Taylor of the Indianapolis Colts is the only other player over 300 touches. He has fumbled four times this season.

Joe Mixon has 291 touches for the Cincinnati Bengals. He’s fumbled three times. Dalvin Cook has fumbled three times on 256 touches. Antonio Gibson has put the ball on the ground six times on 249 touches. Alvin Kamara is the only other player in the league with 200 or more touches (he has 222) without a fumble, but he does have seven in 1220 career touches. He’s only fumbled more than one time in a season once. In fact, there are only nine players with even 100 touches with no fumbles, five of them with 150 or fewer touches.

Truth be told, I was hoping to utilize Stathead to come up with a list of the best seasons in terms of touches without a fumble, but apparently they don’t offer a filter for player fumbles. But evidently there are only four seasons among the top 50 based on Approximate Value in which a player record 300-plus touches and did not fumble: Marshall Faulk in 2000, Barry Sanders in 1994, LaDainian Tomlinson in 2007, and Le’Veon Bell in 2014. The latter three had 373-375 touches; Faulk had 334.

Point being, ball security is always a good attribute to have as a running back. And Bell was actually damn good at that for a chunk of his career. Here’s hoping that Harris can follow in his footsteps in that regard—after he had a fumble in the preseason.

Through the first 13 games of his NFL career, he has recorded 249 carries for 891 yards with six rushing touchdowns. He has also caught 62 passes for another 405 yards and another three touchdowns. In all, he has 1296 yards from scrimmage on 311 touches with nine touchdowns.

He is just the seventh player in franchise history to record at least 300 touches in a single season, following in the footsteps of Franco Harris (five seasons), Jerome Bettis (five), Bell (three), Willie Parker (two), Barry Foster (one), and Rashard Mendenhall (one).

Of those 18 total seasons in all, only Harris’ current season and Bell’s 2014 season saw the player in question avoid fumbling altogether. Of course, Harris still has three games left to go before he can claim not to have fumbled at all. Bettis’ 2000 season is the only one of the others in which the player fumbled just one time. Harris has three seasons in which he fumbled 10-plus times.

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