UNITY TWP., Pa. — Steelers running back Najee Harris has not seen a large workload in training camp thus far. Mostly, it has been Jaylen Warren running with the first-team offense with some Anthony McFarland sprinkled into that. But why would that be the case? Mike Tomlin addressed just that on Thursday, and there are no gymnastics to be taken to justify that. It is not a great reaction to the Lisfranc injury.
“Not in response to any injury, it’s just about the maturation of him as a professional and giving him what he needs,” Tomlin said. “We don’t live in fear regarding injury or injury history.”
For Tomlin, there were less physical reps that Najee Harris required. That is why he has simply not played that much in training camp, but he will play against the Buffalo Bills. Harris will be one of many starters playing, as the team seems to be ready for a dress rehearsal of sorts against the Bills at home. For at least a little bit, it will be ones against ones.
“He just needs less physical reps the older he gets,” Tomlin said. “There’s no ground-breaking or Earth-shattering about that.”
Harris is entering a critical third year in his NFL career. With the running back market depressed, Harris has exclaimed his dissatisfaction with that market already. But the Steelers seem to be taking steps to ensure that the mileage on Harris’ legs does not magically add up to any more than it needs to be.
“We don’t really have leverage in a way because it’s our job,” Harris said. “With Saquon, he had 30 percent of the offense. He’s not trying to break the market, he’s trying to get compensated fairly. They know it ain’t fair what he’s getting. He wants a long contract. Right now, he’s got no security. We have no security. You guys are using us for what you want and then when it’s time for us to reup they go and turn the other cheek, they just ‘oh well you have wear and tear’. Come on now bruh. You want to utilize us as much as you can for cheap. Then, go get another back and do the same thing.”
The Steelers will look to make a decision on Harris’ fifth-year option once the season is over. It seems extremely likely that they end up picking that up. Harris and Warren will seemingly be a strong one-two punch that can play off one another as the Steelers focus on their run game.