Steelers News

Najee Harris Says Coaches Spoke To Him Over Bye About ‘Me Helping Out The O-Line’ In Run Game

The Pittsburgh Steelers rushed for over 200 yards during Sunday’s win over the New Orleans Saints, marking the most they have put up on the ground in a game in six years. While they got contributions from a variety of places, the central focus of the rushing attack continues to be starting running back Najee Harris.

The second-year back rushed for a season-high 99 yards on 20 carries during the day, including a season-long 36-yard run, his first explosive run of the season. He had two runs of 10-plus yards on the day after having just nine in the first eight games in total. He had a run success rate of 45 percent as well, which is respectable.

And it wasn’t all just happenstance. It’s something that they put a lot of work into, as he explained to reporters after the game, particularly with respect to his own role in fixing the issues in the run game and what he needed to do differently.

“That was emphasized a lot during the bye week”, he said, via Amanda Godsey of the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, who was in the locker room. “Me and the coaches, we all got together and talked a lot about how we could fix it, what I could do really to help it out. Today it showed up”.

Harris now has 460 rushing yards on the season after his most successful day on the ground thus far, but still a far cry from the 1200 yards that he had during his rookie season. He averaged over 70 yards per game in 2021, and is now up to about 51, so he understands Sunday’s game has to be just the start of something rather than the culmination.

“We need more, especially coming from me”, he said, but would not divulge the specifics of what the coaches were looking for from him beyond doing more to complement his blockers. “Not stuff that I want to say on camera, but we had a conversation about some stuff where they think that me helping out the o-line can help out a lot more”, he said, “and I took that into consideration practicing throughout the week”.

While we don’t know the exact nature of the conversation Harris had with his coaches, I think we can surmise that one thing they discussed was being more decisive in hitting holes rather than trying to dance around and look for an opening.

They may well have spoken to him about being more careful with regard to his comments in the running game, like when he said before the bye week that he can’t open the holes for himself. He was much more forthright in his personal accountability this week, though that’s also easier to do after a good game than a bad one.

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