The headline might be a little catchier than it should be, I admit, for those who pay close attention, because in reality, it doesn’t impart any new knowledge, or at least information that couldn’t have been deduced from what we already knew.
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin already said on Tuesday that rookie running back Jaylen Warren is going to continue to play and to see an increased role, so the man acknowledging that he is seeing himself being incorporated more in practice ought to be taken as a given, to that end. But it’s nevertheless a noteworthy development—as the team’s website did.
“It’s the most I have been involved with stuff as far as work in the running back room”, he told reporters this week, according to a blog post by Teresa Varley on the Steelers’ website. “Me getting the reps allows me to be totally engaged with everything in the preparation. It allows me to have the confidence to go out there and play fast”.
A rookie college free agent out of Oklahoma State, Warren not only made the 53-man roster but unseated veteran Benny Snell Jr. as the team’s number two running back behind Najee Harris. He actually played more snaps on Sunday than Harris did, logging 38 in total, or just over half of the team’s total offensive snaps.
Still, that was also situational, because Warren has also moved ahead of Harris, at least based on the on-field evidence, as their primary passing downs back. While he has shown some nifty-enough hands and the ability to create yards after the catch, it is primarily because of how much he has distinguished himself in pass protection.
The fact that he mustered just five touches in those 38 snaps should be a good indication of just what that workload means, but he has also done well when given the opportunity to have the ball in his hands. To date, Warren he gained 94 rushing yards on 19 carries, averaging just under five yards per. He also has seven receptions for 46 yards.
Snell had 38 touches all of last season in 17 games played as the wall-to-wall number two back. Warren is already up to 26 touches in only five games played, with indications of an increased workload moving forward. It’s quite possible that he hits 100 touches before the year is through.
Outside of some concerns about ball security, the rookie has garnered near-universal praise for his performance since the pads came on in training camp. He caught many an eye in the first backs-on-backers drill and hasn’t lost them since. Moving forward, he likely will have the opportunity to prove his early supporters right.