PITTSBURGH — Jaylen Warren has been one of the best stories of Steelers training camp thus far. The undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma State has taken the Steelers and their backfield by storm. So, on Thursday, when Warren came out with the first team, it was a welcomed surprise to see him getting the opportunity to prove himself.
Throughout the rest of the day, Warren would run as the unquestioned number two running back. Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland ran behind him as Warren backed up Najee Harris. So, with the depth chart in Jacksonville likely going Harris, Warren, and then McFarland and Snell, it will be Warren’s chance to do something against higher-level competition.
Warren still does not know what the rotation will be like. However, it appeared that Harris was not going to play on Saturday. While Mike Tomlin did not rule him out, Harris essentially ruled himself out. If that is the case, that could easily mean that Warren may get the start in his place. If that were to happen, it would be nothing more than a blessing for Warren.
“It would be cool to get reps with that first team,” Warren said. “All of that would be a blessing. I would enjoy it a lot.”
That follows the trend of what has been happening with Warren. He is now repping mainly with the first and second team, and rarely with the third team. On Thursday, Warren ran in a touchdown with the first team. With the second team, he ripped off a 15-yard run after evading two players.
For Mike Tomlin, it was simply time to see more from Warren at this point. He was great against the Seahawks aside from a pesky fumble. The Steelers are working to fix that, but his all-around skillset has warranted the promotion. Now, Warren has that opportunity against a stout Jaguars front.
“They are carving nice niches out for themselves,” Tomlin said of Warren and McFarland. “Your ability to put a performance on top of performance is a big part of ball at this level. Whether that’s on the practice field, and we’ve seen some of that, or in a stadium, I think that’s a big component of it. Both guys performed well, as you mentioned a week ago.”
Against Seattle, Warren caught a touchdown on four receptions for 30 yards. He also ran for 34 yards on six carries. All in all, it was a great performance. Now, Warren is ready to take that next leap and prove he is more than just a camp darling. It seems that on the road, in Jacksonville, will be Warren’s opportunity to prove that he can rise to the occasion.
“I mean, if you would have told me I would be in this spot five years ago, I would not have believed you,” Warren said. “I’ve enjoyed every moment of this. I’m ready to prove something.”
The number two running back competition was only supposed to be between McFarland and Snell until Warren came around with a wrecking ball. If he puts up another strong performance, Warren could entrench himself onto the Steelers roster and as their backup running back.