Najee Harris Expects ‘Fun To Watch’ QB Battle Will Sort Out Once Pads Go On, Blitzing, Disguising Begins

The Pittsburgh Steelers will open their 2022 training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe this week, and when they do, all eyes will be on the quarterback battle that’s expected to take place. Obviously, it should be fun to watch Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph and Kenny Pickett all go through the paces this summer. During a recent interview with Bryant McFadden on his podcast, Steelers running back Najee Harris was asked quite a bit about the upcoming quarterback battles that will take place in Latrobe this summer.

“Well, I expect it to be fun to watch,” Harris said. “I like a lot of competition. I like boxing. I like one-on-one battles, so I think that in that room there’s all type of one-on-one battles. You know, Mason with Mitch, Mitch with Kenny. Who throws the better ball? Who’s more confident? Who’s more confident under pressure? Who’s gonna be that guy? And competition brings out the best in all of us. So, I think that during this camp right here that we’ve got at Latrobe, not only are we gonna see, but the fans are gonna see too.”

As you would probably expect, McFadden then asked Harris who he thinks will ultimately win the Steelers’ quarterback battle this year during training camp.

“I don’t know who it is, man,” Harris said. “Like, I think that Mike T. [Tomlin] and all and [Matt] Canada and all of them boys is gonna make a good decision of who could be the guy. But me, personally, I don’t know. I don’t know because during OTAs, there’s no pads. Nobody’s really flying around like that. But when there’s pads on and stuff’s happening, Mike T. and the defense got their stuff going on, they’re disguising all the looks and stuff. I think that’s really gonna separate one from each other. They’re all good guys. They’re all good players, but during this camp, when we’ve got pads on and them bullets start flying, then you’re gonna be like, ‘okay, now, that’s our guy and that’s not.”

Harris went on to talk more about how camp practices will shed a lot more light on which quarterback deserves to be the starter when the team opens their 2022 regular season on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals.

“7-on-7 during OTAs, it’s like, there’s nobody blitzing,” Harris told McFadden. “You know, there’s no line. So, it’s like anybody can make a good throw kind of. You would hope so because you’re NFL quarterbacks. The most you could do is throw a deep ball in the out route with no pressure. You should be calm the whole time. But it’s when the blitz is coming, when you’ve got T.J. [Watt] coming off the edge. You’ve got Cam [Heyward] up middle. You’ve got Tyson [Alualu]. You’ve got Devin [Bush] and everybody blitzing. You’ve got Minkah [Fitzpatrick] blitzing. You’ve got anybody disguising all these looks. You’ve got this fake cover-2 look right here, but it’s really not. And that safety backs up into the middle and now it’s cover-3. Now it’s like, okay, now you’re reading all of it, now it’s like, all right, that’s real football right there. Now let’s see who’s the guy. You know what I mean?”

That’s as direct as Harris can be about how training camp differs from the football in shorts that took place earlier in the offseason. The practices at Latrobe, along with the team’s three preseason games, should definitely tell us much more about who the Steelers’ starting quarterback should be come Week 1. As things stand right now, it certainly seems like Trubisky will open training camp as the Steelers’ starter. Beyond that, we’ll have to wait and see if Pickett is actually given many reps with the second team along with Rudolph during training camp practices and preseason games.

While Pickett was rightfully deemed the most NFL-ready quarterback in the 2022 draft class, there’s a growing sense that he still might open his rookie season as the Steelers’ third-string signal caller behind Trubisky and Rudolph. That growing sense aside, Pickett could start the season as the backup to Trubisky, especially if the team decides to jettison Rudolph via a trade.

Harris understandably took a real diplomatic approach to all of McFadden’s questions about the Steelers’ upcoming training camp quarterback battles. He even joked that maybe he could wind up winning the job.

“Shoot, me,” Harris joked to McFadden. “Wildcat.”

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