Najee Harris is going to look a little different this year. Not with weight, he’s already dispelled that notion, but in uniform. This year, he’s going sans visor for a very clear and concise reason. He joined Bryant McFadden on his All Things Covered podcast Monday to explain why.
“I’m just strictly business,” he said. “I wanna see a motherfucker’s eyes.”
Consider Harris ready for training camp to start. He’ll look to pick up where he left off late last season. Though finding running room behind the Steelers’ new and patchwork offensive line was tough, he ended the year on higher notes, averaging 5.3 YPC over his final three games. That included the best game of his career, a 188-yard performance to beat the Browns including the game-sealing 37-yard score. Pittsburgh upgraded its offensive line by bringing in center Mason Cole and right guard James Daniels with the focus being on the running game. If the Steelers want any chance to be competitive this year, it’ll come through Harris and the team’s ability to run the ball. And Harris wants a little more clarity this season though you have to admit, his old visor looked pretty cool.
Visor or not, Harris will serve as the central point of Pittsburgh’s offense and should again be its workhorse back. No runner played as much as Harris did last year and it wasn’t even close. He ended 2021 playing 83.5% of the team’s snaps far ahead of second place’s Jonathan Taylor, who logged 68.9% for the Colts. In fact, only five running backs in the league logged 60%+ of their team’s offensive snaps, more proof of how other teams are shifting to committee backfields. Pittsburgh is an exception, still married to the workhorse mentality that ruled the early 2000s and every era before that.
Harris ended by acknowledging how important this year is for him and for the team.
“This next upcoming year is gonna be really important for me because last year it was kind of like an appetizer of what I really could become. There’s a lot of things that I need to work on.”
Harris could work on getting downhill a little more consistently while being able to rip off more explosive runs, though some of that is determined by downfield blocking of receivers. Overall, his rookie year was a great launching pad for 2022. The Steelers will count on a youthful offense with fellow second-year players like Pat Freiermuth and Dan Moore Jr. in addition to third-year guys like WR Chase Claypool to put Pittsburgh in the end zone more often than they ended up last year.