The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the 2022 regular season, but before the real games begin, the team has to head to training camp back at St. Vincent College in order 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 will once again lead the NFL in total touches.
Why it will happen: Last season, as a rookie, Najee Harris led the entire NFL with 381 touches. For those who don’t know, that includes both rushes and receptions. I still find that number staggering — 381. However, it almost comes as expected anymore with Mike Tomlin teams. He loves his bell cow running backs, and Harris is the epitome of just that.
One of the main reasons I believe this will happen, outside of Tomlin’s desire to have a 3-down back who never leaves the field, is the way the organization approached the position this offseason. In other words, they did nothing. They plan on going into training camp with Harris, Benny Snell Jr., Anthony McFarland and some undrafted rookies.
So, unless the Steelers believe a combination of Snell/McFarland will be good enough to spell Harris from playing as much as he did in his rookie year, this trend is likely to continue.
Why it won’t happen: The Steelers have already talked about how they want to decrease the workload placed on Harris in Year 2. Harris didn’t seem to thrilled about the suggestion, but also added he’ll do whatever the coaches want him to do.
Earlier, in the why it will happen section, I spoke about the depth behind Harris as a reason he will get almost the same amount of touches as he did in 2021. However, McFarland has yet to remain healthy for a full season. If, and that’s a big if, McFarland can stay healthy, along with Snell, the trio of backs could at least get Harris off the field a time or two during games.
Snell can manipulate short-yardage situations, if needed, and McFarland can be the change-of-pace back Matt Canada likes to have in his backfield. In fact, McFarland was in his backfield when he was the interim head coach at the University of Maryland.
Keep that trio together, and healthy, Harris’s touches very well could diminish.
Prediction: Harris not touching the ball as much doesn’t seem like a good thing, but keeping your best offensive weapon healthy is absolutely paramount. Decreasing the overall number of touches can be a positive, but I don’t see it happening.
The Steelers will likely try to parade Snell and McFarland out there as if they are capable of getting the job done, but when the game is on the line, and every game could be close with this 2022 roster, Tomlin will want his guy on the field. Again, getting Harris the ball isn’t a bad thing, but his health should be brought into consideration as well. Nonetheless, throw it out the window, Harris will be getting another heavy workload in 2022.
Check out yesterday’s ‘30 Scenarios in 30 Days’ prediction:
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the 2022 regular season.