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Matt Canada Hints To Increased Usage Coming For RB Jaylen Warren: ‘We Got To Get The Ball To The Guys Who Are Making Plays’

UDFA rookie running back Jaylen Warren was the darling of training camp, captivating fans with his aggressive running style as well as his grittiness as a blocker to stick his face in the fan in order to get the job done.

His efforts in training camp and in the preseason earned him the backup job behind entrenched starter Najee Harris, relegating RB Benny Snell Jr. to his special teams role as a more explosive runner as well as a capable pass catcher.

Warren ended up expanding his role on offense thanks to his play in pass protection, becoming Pittsburgh’s third down back, relegating Harris more to an early down runner as he dealt with a foot injury as well as his inefficacies on the ground and through the air catching the football.

Now, it appears that Warren is about to expand his role even further coming off the bye week with the coaching staff analyzed the tape and saw the same thing plenty of Steelers fans have seen in recent weeks… that being Warren has been a more effective running back than Najee Harris to start the 2022 season.

OC Matt Canada was asked about Warren and potentially expanding his role prior to practice Thursday and had nothing but good things to say about the rookie running back.

“I think we talk about who is trending,” Canada said to the media Thursday prior to Thursday’s practice on video from Jeff Hathhorn’s Twitter page. “Jaylen’s been explosive. I mean, you look at the plays and what he’s done when he’s been on the field blocking, catching the ball, running the ball. Obviously, he is writing his own script in my opinion from coming in where he started and where he is now. He’s elevated and he’s done a great job, so we’ll continue to use him, and we got to get the ball to the guys who are making plays.”

HC Mike Tomlin cracked the door open during his Tuesday press conference on Warren’s uptick in usage, talking about a division of labor in the backfield and said that Warren may be able to “write that script” of becoming a feature back in Pittsburgh’s offense. This is not normal for someone like Tomlin who has always utilized a workhorse back and has stuck by Najee Harris’ side all season long despite his poor play. Canada used the same terminology when talking about Warren two days later, saying that he is writing his own script as a former undrafted free agent that has maximized his opportunities and played himself into a bigger role.

For a team that normally shuts down any out-of-the-box comments, it looks like the coaching staff has recognized Warren’s effectiveness as a runner compared to Najee Harris thus far this season and are prepared to reward him with more work this upcoming weekend against the Saints. We will see on Sunday exactly just how much that increase will be, but Warren has undoubtedly left a good impression on the coaching staff thus far and has earned him the right to push Pittsburgh’s former first-round pick for more playing time down the stretch.

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