On the PM Show with Andrew Filliponi and Chris Mueller, former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark aid he believes that second-year running back Najee Harris and rookie running back Jaylen Warren can be a good 1-2 punch.
“Najee and Jaylen could truly be a very good 1-2 punch. I think Jaylen Warren has a little bit more burst than Najee right away. And I think he’s able to get into some holes and get to some spaces that Najee is not. But obviously, you know, Najee is the one,” Clark said.
“I think we’re at a point in this league where you can have a guy rush for 1,100 and a guy rush for 500. You know what I mean? Nothing’s wrong with that,” he said later in the interview. “Najee Harris doesn’t have to have 1,700 yards. It protects his body, keeps him fresh. And you also add a different dynamic.”
One of Pittsburgh’s goals this offseason was to lighten the load on Najee Harris after he led the league in touches as a rookie. While they didn’t make any significant moves via trade or free agency to get a veteran back, they brought in two undrafted free agents in Mateao Durant and Warren to see if one of them could take over as the team’s number two back ahead of Benny Snell Jr. and Anthony McFarland.
Warren was able to take over, and besides an issue with fumbles, he’s looked more than capable of being the team’s backup running back. He’s shown the ability to be an above-average pass blocker, he hits the hole hard and he’s shown good burst and power, especially for someone with a 5’8 frame. If he doesn’t clean up the fumbling issues, his stay in Pittsburgh may not be that long, but if he’s able to then he can play an important role on this team for the next few years.
Clark mentioned the Aaron Jones/A.J. Dillon pairing in Green Bay and the Tony Pollard/Ezekiel Elliot pairing in Dallas and the Kareem Hunt/Nick Chubb pairing in Cleveland as running back rooms that Pittsburgh can emulate with Harris and Warren.
While the Steelers aren’t close to reaching that level yet, if Warren can progress enough to give Pittsburgh two starting-caliber running backs, the team will be in a lot better spot than they are now. With their commitment to running the ball coupled with their below-average passing attack, they need to have a competent ground game to compete. Hopefully, Warren can progress and the Steelers can have that two-headed monster at running back that Clark believes they can have.