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‘Kenny’s the Guy’: Najee Harris Shoots Down Concerns on Missing Captain Honors



Steelers Najee Harris
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris (22) runs the ball past Atlanta Falcons linebacker Tae Davis (50) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023, in Atlanta. The Pittsburgh Steelers won 24-0. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)

PITTSBURGH — Najee Harris is not concerned about losing his captainship. A year ago, a second-year Harris would earn the captainship alongside Mitch Trubisky. However, this year, the lone offensive captain is Kenny Pickett. But Harris is not worried about that at all. He understands that the term quarterback comes with a different enigma.

“Kenny’s the quarterback. Kenny’s the guy. I have no issue with that. I don’t think anybody has an issue with there being one captain. As long as we win, we’re not tripping. It’s all a team sport,” Harris said.

Yesterday, Mike Tomlin noted that the lack of captains outside of Pickett was not an indictment on anyone else, likely referring to Harris, but rather an endorsement of what Pickett did to earn everyone’s trust. That factor led to a landslide vote in Pickett’s favor.

“I think him being the lone captain on offense is no disrespect to the leadership of others but probably more reflection of everyone’s feel of his growth and development,” Tomlin said. “Not only as a player but as a leader within this collecttive. I think the votes reflected that on more than one side and the team’s view of him and his growth and development.”

Yesterday, Cam Heyward gave a ringing endorsement on what Kenny Pickett brings to the table as a leader. A young leader has to show his qualities before people believe in him. But that is what Pickett has done over the last year with the Steelers. Now, the team views him as a captain and the offense’s leader.

That seemed evident when veterans such as Heyward spoke of Pickett when asked. His offensive line is a ride-or-die group for him, and his game’s off-field element goes smoothly. Coming out of Pitt in the 2022 NFL Draft, his intangibles were one skill the Steelers could rely upon.

“Kenny is just a kid who continues to work his tail off,” Heyward said. “Whether it’s offseason, in season, communication, he has grown leaps and bounds from last year. With that there is a leadership role. Whether that’s challenging guys on the field, holding guys accountable, working on your communication, having the dialogue back and forth with your guys. That is what a leader should be.”

Those traits did not earn Harris a place as a captain, but he is still an integral leader on the offensive side of the football. Pickett has the primary mantle at this point.

Alan Saunders contributed to reporting from Pittsburgh.

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