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Najee Harris Says Steelers Game-Planned To Get Him 1-On-1s With The DBs, Stiff-Arm Run Being Just One Play

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris still doesn’t have his 100-yard rushing game this year. But it’s undeniable that he has been running the ball better since the bye week. Over the last four games, he has rushed for 310 yards on 67  carries, averaging over 4.6 yards per rush, with three rushing touchdowns, and that was with missing half a game in the midst of the run.

After only practicing for one day last week while nursing an oblique injury suffered on the Monday before last, Harris still managed to break off for 86 yards on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons on 17 attempts, showcasing some of the hardest, most physical running of the year. The highlight run in which he buried one of Atlanta’s defensive backs with a stiff arm was just an example—and also the product of preparation.

“All week we talked about trying to make me be one on one with the DBs”, he said earlier this week in an interview that aired on the SiriusXM NFL Rewind program. “Even if it’s blocked a certain way, they try to say, ‘We’ll block you the best we can and leave the DB for Najee. Make sure the free hat is always gonna be the DB, safety, nickel, whatever. Najee’s gotta win those battles’”.

Well, he did win those battles, although not always so violently as he managed the time that was deemed fit to put into memes, as the Steelers’ own social media accounts did this week. But, again, while the result might look all physical, the work that goes into it goes far beyond the moment of action.

“We practiced that all week. I saw that on film, too. me watching extra film, I saw how much the DBs and nickels and safeties fill the gaps in the run game”, Harris said about watching the Falcons’ tape on how they defend the run. “It was a couple plays where I got the blessing where I could be one on one with the safety, and I knew I could win, so that was just one scenario”.

Now, next up is the Baltimore Ravens who have some of the most physical defensive backs around. it’s not going to be easy for him to do to Marlon Humphrey, for example, what he has done to other defensive backs this year—even if Humphrey is worrying about George Pickens.

There has been a lot of talk this week about how not just Harris but the entire backfield and even the offensive line has more fully adopted a ‘downhill mentality’ that is leading the charge in the improvement of the run game. Can they continue to ride that momentum through to the end of the year?

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