As a rookie, running back Najee Harris had a sensational year, when we also consider the paltry offensive line which he was running behind. He ran for 1,200 yards, many of which were created on his own, caught 74 passes for another 467 yards, with ten total touchdowns. His rushing yardage total also set the franchise single-season rookie record, previously held by Hall of Famer Franco Harris.
As he enters year two, the Pro Bowler looked to be in phenomenal shape at OTA’s, where the size of his legs were massive, and his playing weight was speculated as well, but he’s admitted to only gaining two pounds, putting him at 244. Sitting down with former Steeler Bryant McFadden on the All Things Covered Podcast earlier today, Harris outlined several things he wants to accomplish this season, the first of which is becoming more of a vocal leader. When a multi-time Super Bowl winning quarterback exits the building, other players have to step up to fill that leadership role, and Harris was very open about being up to the task.
“I need to speak up more often,” Harris told McFadden. “I need to be more confident in the plays that I’m running. If you know your plays, you’d be more confident in things you’re doing, you play faster. So I need to do that, I just need to prove to myself, like I’m one of the top guys in the NFL for sure. You know what I mean? I already think I am, but to consistently do that every year, I think that’s a challenge that I need to take and uphold.”
One aspect of his game last year that stuck out head and shoulders above the rest of the league is his ball security. He set a rookie record for the most touches without a fumble, with 381, which led the league. It also ranked as the second-most touches in league history without a fumble behind Gerald Riggs, who tallied 430 touches in the 1985 season.
Harris also wants to keep focus on the task at hand, and remain hungry and competitive, the “Eye of the Tiger”, if you will. He stated it’s a driving motivational factor in why he trains so hard, so he can prepare his body to withstand another massive workload, as he’ll look to become the centerpiece of an offense undergoing a makeover.
“That’s why this next upcoming year is gonna be really important for me because I think last year, it was kind of like an appetizer of what I really could become. I mean, there’s a lot of things that I need to work on, there’s a lot of things that I have been working on. So just really, just perform it all next year.”
McFadden even asked him about the Brian Dawkins-like all black visor that he donned at OTA’s, asking him if it’s something he’ll continue to wear for the upcoming season. Harris’ reply should make the defenders this year who try to tackle him up high think twice about doing so.
“No visor this year, it’s strictly business. I wanna see motherfuckers’ eyes.”