Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers are deep into the season, it’s time to take stock of where the team stands. Specifically, where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of the regular season as it plays out. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning for each one. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: RB Najee Harris
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: The second-year running back looked the closest to his Pro Bowl form of 2021 in yesterday’s win over the Atlanta Falcons, running an aggressive and physical style that featured a series of stiff arms that left defenders at his feet. This all following a Monday night game that he exited with an oblique injury that sent him to the hospital and after which he didn’t practice until the Friday walkthrough.
If you simply tuned in on Sunday afternoon and watched running back Najee Harris play, you would have never known that he was briefly in the hospital less than a week earlier with a football injury. He exited Monday night’s game against the Indianapolis Colts with what was at the time called an abdominal injury and later called an oblique.
He told reporters this past week that the pain was so great that he had to take himself out of the game, and he was sent to the hospital by halftime. He was examined and discharged, of course, and didn’t need surgery or anything like that, but he missed practice this week.
He sure didn’t look like it, though. He rushed for 86 yards on the day on just 17 carries, averaging 5.1 yards per rush, and much of that came after contact. As mentioned above, the stiff arm featured prominently in his repertoire against the Falcons.
Astonishingly, a full 14 of Harris’ 17 runs on the day were successful, which is a remarkable percentage. You generally want to get to around half. His first six carries on the day were all successful runs. And his one reception for six yards was another successful play.
Bottom line, putting the ball in his hands yesterday afternoon was a recipe for success—one almost wonders why they didn’t do it a little more. But all ran well today, including Benny Snell Jr. and Derek Watt, whose fullback dive has been undefeated so far this season, even if used sparsely.
If Harris continues to look like this, and generally the way that he has since the bye, for the remainder of the season, then the Steelers could be trouble for opponents should they make it to the postseason (and yes, I hear you groaning because you’d rather get the better draft pick).