Mike Tomlin says Najee Harris reflecting in uniform after games is ‘routine for him’, adds ‘he’s always trying to improve’
So far this season, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris has been a bit of a disappointment. Harris suffered a foot injury during training camp that clearly had an effect throughout the regular season, as Sunday’s win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was the first game Harris played without a plate. steel in his shoe. The Steelers offensive line, while better than expected, still didn’t look great in the running game, which also hurt Harris’ production. After Sunday’s game, he sat at his locker with pads long after the game was over, and Mike Tomlin said at his weekly press conference today that it was part of Harris’ routine.
“It’s routine for him. Win or lose, he’s always the last to go. He is still reflecting and thinking about what happened and trying to learn and grow from the experiences that happened. He is a young man, but he is always called to be a leader. He understands the gravity of where he is and the responsibilities that come with it and he’s always trying to improve and that’s just one part of his improvement,” Tomlin said via the YouTube channel. crew.
No one wants Harris to perform better than him. I’m sure he puts more pressure on himself than anyone inside or outside the Steelers building. After a rookie year that set a team record, he has just 264 yards on 3.2 yards per carry this year. Obviously, that’s not what the Steelers expected when they took him in the first round in 2021, and right now that’s not good enough. But the injury obviously played a role, and not having a blocking offensive line doesn’t help. First-round running backs are supposed to be pretty good at overcoming subpar blocking, but when you pair that with his injury, his drop in production makes sense.
He’s not getting as many yards per rush after contact (1.2 this season versus 1.9 last season) and he has just five broken tackles this year after hitting 30 last year. I don’t think Harris fell off a cliff after his rookie year. I believe his foot injury is still bothering him to some degree, and because of that he can’t produce after and run in contact as effectively as he was able to in his rookie year.
Harris is still a leader on this team, and he’s going to keep touching himself. He broke up some solid runs in the Tampa Bay game and finished with 14 carries for 42 yards. While those numbers may not jump out at you, it’s definitely a staple for Harris for the rest of the season. It was the first game he played without the steel plate, and with Kenny Pickett potentially out on Sunday, it’s possible the team could rely more on Harris. Although it’s been a slow start to the season, I think Harris will pick it up at some point now that he’s healthier than he was at the start of the year.