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‘We Got Your Back:’ Harris Willing To Support Pickett Any Way Possible

Just a year ago, Najee Harris was the Pittsburgh Steelers’ rookie first round pick with all eyes on him. Harris got his NFL career started a bit quicker than Kenny Pickett and of course, being a quarterback is a whole different microscope to be under, but Harris says he’ll do whatever he can to help Pickett transition from backup to starter.

“We got your back whatever way that we can,” Harris told reporters via Steelers.com when asked his message to Pickett.

Pickett faces a tough task his first week in the starting lineup, on the road against Buffalo this weekend. The Bills are dealing with several injuries on the defensive side of the ball, providing a glimmer of hope, but the Steelers are still heavy underdogs.

The best thing Harris can do is be the anchor of the Steelers’ run game. Pittsburgh’s ground attack has slowly progressed but as OC Matt Canada admitted, it has to improve at a faster pace. Staying on schedule will be key for Pickett and the Steelers’ offense this weekend; falling into 3rd and forever against the Bills’ aggressive and talented front. The team has certainly rallied around Pickett in part because they have to. The last time the Steelers found themselves in these shoes was 2004 with Ben Roethlisberger. That year, Pittsburgh was a more veteran and established team. In 2022, they’re still figuring out what they have and who they are.

As Harris experienced last year, the only way to grow is by doing. That’ll mean learning from mistakes, as Pickett did with a three interception game against the New York Jets. Those three picks weren’t solely on him but there’s things to learn and grow from within each negative play.

When evaluating rookies, especially quarterbacks, perspective is important to keep in mind. Making conclusions off one game or even a stretch of games is dangerous to do. It lends itself to being on an emotional roller coaster trying to decide if Pickett is “the guy” or not. The Browns played that game with Baker Mayfield for years, swinging back and forth between him being the franchise quarterback or a failed first round pick.

Windows to judge rookies are shorter and don’t require 3-4 years to judge but there shouldn’t be any conclusions drawn off Pickett’s first start, good or bad. What is benefitting him this week is a full week’s worth of practice reps. He came off the bench cold last week, seeing scout team reps, not running the Steelers’ offensive gameplan, and still performing reasonably well.

But even a hypothetical poor game against the Bills shouldn’t be discouraging and certainly shouldn’t be disqualifying. His rookie season should be a film strip, not a snapshot, and only the finished product will be worth evaluating when it comes to determining his future with this team and in this league.

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