Najee Harris certainly looks bigger in his second spring with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The team’s 2021 first round draft pick appears to have put on some muscle entering his second season, though there is some dispute about his actual playing weight.
Mark Kaboly of The Athletic reported on Tuesday that Harris and now weighs 244 pounds. He was listed by the Steelers as a rookie at 232, but Harris said he played last season at 240.
Suffice to say that whatever he weighs, Harris seems better prepared to withstand the rigors of NFL football in 2022.
“Lower body strength, I was focused on that,” Harris told Steelers.com’s Missi Matthews.
That’s a very good thing for the Steelers, who bucked the prevailing sentiment around the league and used their first-round pick on a running back. The Steelers need Harris to not only become one of the better starting running backs in the league but also to show a level of durability that most of his backfield brethren do not in order to make the pick a successful one.
Adding weight will help in that regard, but as monster Tennessee Titans running back Derek Henry showed last season, size alone won’t prevent injury.
As a rookie, Harris featured a running style that could be described as borderline reckless. He not only rarely shied from hits, but frequently attempted to hurdle over defenders and contour his body in order to get extra yardage.
“I like the contact part,” Harris admitted.
It’s impossible for running backs to eliminate all chances of injury. But a bigger Harris, with a slightly more sane running style, should help stay on the field more often for the Steelers.
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The team still has not signed two of its seven draft picks from the 2022 NFL Draft: QB Kenny Pickett and WR Calvin Austin III. Bechtold
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