The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens know each other like the backs of their hands. Steelers tailback Najee Harris is no stranger to those that will aim to drag him down Sunday afternoon.
“Just being in the division, obviously … we know them pretty well,” Harris said Friday after practice. “I can tell you it’s going to be a physical game like always.”
While at Alabama, Harris played against Ravens linebackers Patrick Queen and Roquan Smith in the SEC. Baltimore cornerback Marlon Humphrey also played for the Crimson Tide and Harris is friends with the team’s other coverman, Marcus Peters.
“I’m with him all the time in the off-season,” Harris said of the latter. “We’re from the Bay. We’re from the same little tree, man. It’s going to be fun to get to play against him.”
Having been introduced to the fierce AFC North rivalry as a newcomer last go-round, Harris has made a point to impart what he learned to this year’s crop of rookie Steelers, namely wideout George Pickens.
“I’m trying to tell GP a little bit of how it’s going to be and how they’re going to be hunting for him,” Harris said. “Because, like I said, what they do best is taking the ball away.”
Ball security is a major focus for the Steelers. Baltimore has the third-most forced fumbles (48) in the NFL since 2020. Humphrey has jarred nine footballs loose in that time, more than all but three defenders in the league.
“Obviously, seeing Marlon Humphrey do it at this level, I’m pretty sure it’s emphasized over there, too” Harris said. “Seeing him and everybody else on the defense punch at the ball, I think it’s important to tell everybody, including me.”
Najee Harris took 32 carries in two contests against the Ravens in 2021, but was held largely in check. His totes yielded relatively average results. This time around, the Steelers seem to be finding their groove on the offensive side of the ball, based on their showings the last two times out.
“We’re getting results, but we’re not there yet,” Harris said of the progression. “We’ve still got to keep stacking bricks. It’s good to start putting together some wins … For us to carry that into this game, it’s going to be a tough challenge for us, but that’s what we’re here for.”