It’s been a long time since Le’Veon Bell put up 1,291 rushing yards back in the 2017 season. In the three following seasons James Conner was the lead back but could only muster a 973 yard year in 2018. The fact of the matter is the Pittsburgh Steelers haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher in quite some time, and for a franchise built on a tough run game, that isn't good enough. Enter Najee Harris, the Steelers’ 2021 first round pick. Harris burst onto the scene and was the Steelers lead back from the first snap of mini camp. The uber talented back was given the reigns of the offense and the team hasn't looked back since.
The Steelers have made Harris the focal point of the offense in recent weeks and Harris has performed. Week in and week out he is rushing piles and running around defenders for positive runs. His talent pops off the screen, and his abilities have made the Steelers much more dynamic offensively. Through seven weeks he is averaging 68 rush yards per game, over the course of a 17 game season Harris would eclipse 1,156 yards at that pace. On top of that, Harris is pacing 663 receiving yards on the year and 12 total touchdowns. At this pace Harris will be amongst the NFL league leaders in combined total yardage.
Najee Harris up the middle! @ohthatsNajee22 #HereWeGo— NFL (@NFL) October 31, 2021
: #PITvsCLE on CBS
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One of the surprising things about Harris is he really isn't getting much chatter for the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year award. I honestly attribute this to the Steelers treating Harris more like a veteran than any true rookie they have had in sometime. The kid was a starter immediately and spoken about as if he were a veteran amongst coaches and players to the media. It is almost as though he was expected to have this level of production immediately and since he’s achieving it, it isn't as impressive around the football world. Despite having a weak offensive line and becoming the bell cow of the offense, media and fans alike just expected Harris to be this good right away. Is it fair? No. But, to step onto the field and receive such respect from the Pittsburgh Steelers speaks volumes to the type of player and person Harris is.
Harris should easily hit the 1,000 yard rushing mark, especially if he continues to hit the weekly numbers he has during this Steelers’ winning streak. The only outlier in his way is whether or not he can stay healthy. This is so unpredictable, but running backs take the most shots out of any of the skill positions. Hopefully Harris can dodge the injury bug and continue this production deep into the playoffs.
But what do you think? Will Najee Harris break the 1,000 yard rushing mark? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.