PITTSBURGH — For the first time in his NFL career, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Warren ran out of the tunnel and was introduced as a starter for the team’s home game against the Green Bay Packers at Acrsiure Stadium on Sunday.
Warren is not technically a starter. He has never been in the lineup for the first snap of any of his 25 career games played, and that didn’t change on Sunday. He’s second on the team’s official depth chart. He also didn’t play starter’s reps, with Warren and Najee Harris each getting exactly 33 snaps against the Packers.
The duo has been working at near a 50/50 time share throughout the season, and that will likely continue.
The only thing that happened on Sunday was a ceremonial gesture from head coach Mike Tomlin to make sure that Warren knows how much he is appreciated.
“He was saying that he was going to announce me and that I’m deserving of it,” Warren said.
Tomlin explained his reasoning for doing so during his weekly press conference on Tuesday.
“You (media members) ask me about him every week,” Tomlin said. “You see the consistency in which he has played. He’s deserving of that. It’s really nothing more complex than that.
“Oftentimes, I’ll rotate around in terms of who I introduce in an effort to pay respect to those that are deserving. Sometimes I’ll introduce two tight ends in an effort to pay respects to a blocking tight end, when I know his contributions might be significant in a game. Sometimes I’ll introduce subpackage defenders when I know we’re going to spend a lot of time in subpackage defense, for example.”
Warren is a former undrafted free agent. He’s not highly paid for an NFL player, and even his on-the-books total has been reduced by fines from the NFL for his overly physical play. But Tomlin wanted to make sure that Warren knows how much he’s appreciated.
“It’s just what you do,” he said “You acknowledged preparedness. You acknowledge professionalism. You acknowledge production. And sometimes it’s something that’s petty as, you know, a guy getting an opportunity to be introduced at a home game.”