‘He Has That Stiff Arm, Man:’ John Harbaugh On RB Najee Harris

As the Pittsburgh Steelers prepare to face AFC North rival Baltimore Ravens for an always physical matchup, they will hope to continue their strides in the running game. After starting off the season slow, Steelers’ running back Najee Harris has put together a solid few games after the bye week. When asked about Harris, Ravens’ head coach John Harbaugh had high praise according to a transcript provided by the team.

“Right, well Najee Harris is a very physical back, downhill guy, strong,” Harbaugh said when asked about the Steelers’ second-year back. “He has that stiff arm, man. You watch that thing; he does a great job getting tacklers off of him.”

Harris indeed has more than a few highlight stiff arms, as physicality has been essential to his running style throughout his football career. In a recent interview, he stated that it was part of the Steelers’ game plan to get him one-on-one with defensive backs. At 6’1 and 232 pounds, he is a nightmare for most defensive backs to tackle, especially when he stiff arms.

“So, we’re going to have to do a great job tackling and playing run defense,” Harbaugh continued. “They’ve been running the ball really well the last four weeks. Obviously, that’s going to be something that’s very much on our minds. Plus, the play-action stuff off of that, with trying to push the ball downfield.”

Since the bye week, the Steelers’ rushing attack ranks 5th in the NFL in yards with 645 and third in attempts. This run game will face its biggest challenge yet, as the Ravens’ run defense allows the second least total yards and yards per attempt. This run game has taken pressure off rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett, and contributed greatly to the team’s 3-1 record since the bye week. Over the last month, Harris has averaged 4.6 yards per carry and three rushing scores as Pittsburgh’s run for 100+ yards in every game.

The Steelers’ rushing success has seen a split in carries between running backs, as Benny Snell and Jaylen Warren. Not to mention, Pickett is an effective scrambler. The Steelers’ offensive line has played together every game of the season, which is a rare feat for any offensive line. As such, the chemistry and run blocking have improved immensely.

Sunday’s matchup against the Ravens will be a big test for Harris and this Steelers’ run game. If the Steelers put together another strong performance on the ground against a quality defensive front, they will get closer to cementing their offensive identity.

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