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Why Najee Harris will break Franco Harris’ Steelers rookie rushing records

In the new “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” series, we break down situations which could take place for the Steelers in 2021.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers Rookie Minicamp Handout Photo-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the 2021 regular season, but before the real games begin, the team has to head to training camp to fine tune their skills. As we here at BTSC prepare you for the start of camp, we give you a series called “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” which gives you a Steelers scenario every day leading up to the start of camp.

It is simple how it works. We provide you the scenario, reasons why it will or won’t happen, and then our prediction for what we think will take place.

Let’s get to the scenario...

Scenario: Najee Harris breaks Franco Harris’ Steelers rookie rushing records

Franco Harris 1972 Statistics:

Games: 14
Attempts: 188
Yards: 1,055
TDs: 10
Yards/Attempt: 5.6
Yards/Game: 75.4

Why it will happen: There are a lot of reasons why Najee Harris will be given every opportunity to break the above rushing records. Harris is entering the NFL to a team which loves to have a bell cow back. Mike Tomlin does not like a running back by committee approach. Never has, and likely never will. Harris will be given plenty of carries, and with his experience he will be provided tons of carries. Let’s also not forget in 1972, Franco Harris’ rookie season, he played in just 14 games. With 17 games in 2021, Najee Harris will have every opportunity, by way of three more games, to break these records if he can stay healthy.

Why it won’t happen: There is no doubt Harris is a tremendous talent, and will likely be in the NFL for at least the next decade. But the Steelers have been Exhibit A of ‘you need to have an offensive line who can open holes’ regardless of the running back. There is so much uncertainty surrounding the Steelers’ offensive line. Gone are Alejandro Villanueva and Matt Feiler via free agency, Maurkice Pouncey retired and Chukwuma Okorafor will be moving from right tackle to left tackle. With such uncertainty it makes you wonder if even a talent like Harris can thrive. Then there are the injury concerns. No, Najee Harris doesn’t have a history of injuries, but you see injuries to running backs every season. That would kill his overall productivity.

Prediction: While Harris will have three extra games to break this record, and as great as I think Najee Harris will be for the Steelers, I don’t see him breaking Franco’s rookie rushing records. Could he break Franco’s 1,235 total yards? Possibly, but I see Najee Harris finishing just shy of the 1,000 yard mark. However, his versatility as a pass catcher will get him well over 1,000 total yards. Could he pass Franco’s total yardage mark? That’s a scenario for another time...


Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the 2021 regular season.