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Greg Cosell: Najee Harris Not a Featured Back, Jaylen Warren Offers ‘More Juice’



Steelers Jaylen Warren

Longtime NFL analyst Greg Cosell is the latest pundit to claim that Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris will lose his starting spot to Jaylen Warren this season. Harris was ripped during the offseason for averaging 3.9 yards per carry in his career, but the heat has turned up ever since Warren broke off a 62-yard touchdown run against the Buffalo Bills in Week 2 of the preseason. Harris’ longest run of his career is just 37 yards.

Cosell pretty much buried Harris during an appearance on the Ross Tucker Podcast.

“Jaylen Warren gives (the Steelers) a lot more juice at the running back position than Najee Harris,” Cosell said. “And I don’t think you’re going to see Harris this year getting  270, 280 carries. I don’t think he’ll be a quote unquote feature back or foundation back. He’s obviously going to play. He’s going to be a significant part of what they do, but it would not surprise me to see Jaylen Warren get a lot more snaps and a lot more carries in the context of their offense.”

Despite offensive coordinator Matt Canada stating that Harris is without a doubt the Steelers’ No. 1 running back, prominent talking heads still feel like Warren will take over at some point. ESPN’s Dan Graziano and the Ringer’s Bill Simmons had similar comments to Cosell’s earlier this week.

“But Warren’s performance in practice and games has demanded a larger role for him than what Pittsburgh had planned a year ago,” Graziano wrote. “He has shown the ability to spell Harris whenever asked, and he has actually looked more explosive in some areas. Unless Harris looks more like the 2021 version of himself than the 2022 version, Warren’s opportunity could increase dramatically as the year goes on. Warren, a 2022 undrafted free agent, took 77 carries for 379 yards last season.”

Simmons said on his podcast that “Jaylen Warren’s probably going to take Najee Harris’ job at some point.”

Cosell, Graziano and Simmons think there’s a running back controversy brewing in Pittsburgh, but the one-two punch of Harris and Warren will just make the duo and the offense overall better. Quarterback Kenny Pickett stated it best with calling Harris and Warren ‘thunder and lighting.’

“It’s kind of like thunder and lightning with [Jaylen] and Najee. Those two have a really good balance off of each other, they both do great things. They do things differently and it’s a great combination to have in the backfield,” Pickett said.

As mentioned, Canada shut down any talks of Warren surpassing Harris on the depth chart after the Bills game. Unless Harris drastically struggles, the pecking order at running back should remain the same this year.

“Well, Najee is our 1,” Canada said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. We are fortunate. We’re excited about Jaylen and Najee. He finishes a lot of runs in practice. But if you back that play up from the end zone, Diontae had a great block. That was big to see that. Jaylen is a guy who on third down and all of the things he did as a rookie, we’ll use him a lot.”