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Latest in Steelers media: Thursday, September 7
Darnell Washington makes an instant impact, Steelers limit Christian McCaffrey, Najee Harris is RB1 | Bleacher Report
On Christian McCaffrey:
McCaffrey has had mixed results in season openers during his NFL career.
The 49ers running back was held to 50 rushing yards or fewer in three of his six Week 1 games. He was held under 50 receiving yards in each of those three contests as well. San Francisco is expected to use McCaffrey at a high volume on Sunday because of Purdy’s path back to 100 percent.
On Darnell Washington:
Washington is taller and wider than all of the 49ers linebackers and defensive backs. Pittsburgh should use that to its advantage as it tries to pull off the Week 1 upset.
The rookie out of Georgia will probably be utilized most in the red zone as a massive target for Pickett to work with.
The Steelers can also use the 6’7”, 264-pound tight end across the middle in short passing situations to get a rhythm going on drives.
On Najee Harris:
Much has been made about the Steelers’ running back situation in preseason.
Najee Harris is the incumbent starter, but Jaylen Warren’s improvement has been noted and some are expecting more of a split workload.
That may not be the case in Week 1 with a fresh Harris going up against one of the toughest defenses in the NFL.
Harris could be motivated by all the talk around Warren and the chance to finally go off in a Week 1 game.
The FPI algorithm doesn’t know it’s actually impossible for Mike Tomlin to win any fewer than nine games, which gives the Steelers one of the league’s highest floors. In all seriousness, Pittsburgh will be counting on a healthier season from edge rusher T.J. Watt, upgrades to the offensive line, and about six decades of successful drafting and developing yielding breakout seasons for quarterback Kenny Pickett and wideout George Pickens, among others.
I’m on the record as being skeptical of Pittsburgh’s chances, but I’m writing about how things go right in this piece as opposed to what might go wrong. Pickett’s development over the second half of the season was impressive, and even if his interception rate doesn’t stick, the Steelers valued him as a potential franchise passer in Round 1 of last year’s draft for a reason. If he makes the same second-year leap as Carson Wentz made for the Eagles in 2017, you know how that ended for Philly.
Taylor continued his praise for Polamalu, “Troy blessed me with a lot of grace. Even though I’m older than Troy, I always tell Troy that there’s a lot of different categories that I look up to him. I look up to him by the way he carries himself and what he is as a man, a person, a Christian, and a husband. The football part-wise was easy. As soon as I saw Troy, I knew he was a Hall of Famer. He was different.”
Based on the praise Taylor gave Polamalu during our chat together, I wasn’t surprised to hear his response when I asked him who was the best teammate he’s ever played football with.
“It’s Troy, hands down,” exclaimed Taylor. “I had all live access, front row seats, in-court games. Just watching this dude making plays after plays after plays after plays. Mr. ‘I need a play.’ Mr. ‘Clutch Moments’. Mr. ‘Let’s seal the deal’. Mr. ‘Troy, we need your help.’ Troy pretty much carried, instinctively, that defense. I’m talking about plays.”
And while Pickens blocks out the noise of the professional football media talking him up for 2023, on the other hand he has no issues conveying polite disagreement with how the programmers for the Madden video game view his abilities.
“A little too low,” Pickens said. “Way too low. I am like an 80, man. I should be like an 89, 90, at least.”
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