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Insider Says Steelers Rushed Najee Harris Into Leadership Role

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Pittsburgh Steelers RB Najee Harris
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris during OTAs at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on May 28, 2024. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris hasn’t spoke with reporters since the team declined his fifth-year option. He’s been at OTAs, but has refused to talk. That will change this week at mandatory minicamp, however.

“He won’t even acknowledge anybody,” Mark Kaboly of The Athletic said during a recent appearance on 93.7 The Fan. “We won’t find out how he feels until Tuesday or Wednesday when he is required to talk. But, he was required to talk after games last year and missed two or three of those.”

Harris having a surly attitude due to the fifth-year option was a concern for Kaboly. Not speaking to reporters at OTAs doesn’t mean much, but how will Harris respond during the season if things don’t go well? He’s playing on the last year of his deal, and it’s likely that he won’t be back in Pittsburgh next season.

“I mean, he’s a very unique character. He’s hard to get a read on. Sometimes he’s cranky and sometimes he’s talkative. My biggest concern right now is which one are you going to get during the regular season here… is he going to be sitting and moaning and complaining behind the scenes… I’m not quite sure right now because he’s a very intriguing individual that can go either way at this point,” Kaboly said in May.

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Najee Harris

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Najee Harris at the team’s OTAs session, May 28, 2024 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Kaboly thinks the Steelers might have thrown Harris into a leadership role too soon. Harris was named a team captain in 2022, but wasn’t in 2023. Harris said at the time that he had no issue with it.

“They may have thrown him into that leadership role a little bit earlier than he was ready for, and it wasn’t good for them to pull back on that last year. They portrayed him as ‘that guy’ moving forward after his rookie season, and obviously, that didn’t pan out,” Kaboly said.

Harris has displayed leadership qualities in the past, but is usually very to himself. He orchestrated player-only meetings last year when the offense was struggling.

Some leaders just lead by example. Harris is really not a rah-rah guy.

“You just don’t know him very well. Not too many people know him very well, so it’s very hard for me to speak intelligently on a guy that you don’t really know or talk to,” Kaboly said.

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Jesus Christani
Jesus Christani
June 9, 2024 11:37 am

Good coaches should desire for their veterans, stars and superstars to be leaders…

BUT…

Captaincy should be reserved for those who do, ‘it,’ the right way on and off the field as well as in front of the cameras…

Yes, I agree… Rush job concerning Najee’s letter C in 2022… If the voting was to have a do over, the conclusion would probably be similar to the follow season in 2023 — just one offensive Captain in Mitchell Trubisky…

Christian
Christian
June 10, 2024 2:30 pm

They sign tomlin back but not Harris I hope Harris goes off this year and sticks it to the front office tell them to go fuck them selfs Steelers never sign the good players always bums