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Najee Harris embraces the workhorse role but wants fewer snaps

Najee Harris
(Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Najee Harris embraces the workhorse role but wants fewer snaps

Najee Harris had a successful rookie year as he was named to the 2022 Pro Bowl. He finished with 1,200 rushing yards, 467 receiving yards, and 10 touchdowns. Harris set multiple Steelers rookie records in the 2021-2022 season. He passed Franco Harris for most rushing yards in a single season and he beat Le’Veon Bell’s record for most yards from scrimmage in a rookie season.

Harris was able to achieve these accolades because of his extremely heavy workload. Furthermore, he led all running backs in total snaps with 980 and all running backs in offensive touches with 381. Also, Harris was second in rush attempts with 307 behind Jonathan Taylor’s league-leading 332. This is a huge workload for any NFL running back. Especially, a rookie running back.

This was displayed when Harris was talking with Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He was discussing how to balance his extensive workload while keeping his high-level play. Harris stated,

“I am taking time off”

(H/T Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Harris has been in talks with the Steelers surrounding their situation. They have been discussing his workload and how the offense will work. The Steelers and Harris are looking for adjustments for the 2022-2023 season. Harris explained,

“I will not be on the field for certain plays. We’re still going to talk about that, though. I do want to play. A lot… Any time I can. But at the same time, it’s all about being smart. So I understand where [the Steelers] are coming from”.

(H/T Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Without a doubt, Harris wants to be on the field as well as a major part of the offense. While the relationship between Harris and the Steelers is relatively young. There is clear communication going on between the two parties about the upcoming season.

Mike Tomlin’s running back history 

This is not a new occurrence as head coach Mike Tomlin is known to gravitate toward a definitive one running back system. Harris’ 980 snaps last season were enough for a huge 83.55% share of offensive snaps. Tomlin has given his previous starting running backs a majority of the work as well. Le’Veon Bell had 927 snaps for an 83.44% share of the offensive snaps in 2014. Additionally, this was raised to 943 snaps for an 85.26% share of offensive snaps in 2017. At this time, with the Steelers Bell began to have his own concerns about his workload. In James Conner’s first year as the lead back in 2018, he had 718 snaps for a 64.34% share of offensive snaps.

Only time will tell if Harris’ workload gets lowered next season. Harris has made it known that he wants to take time off. Now, let’s see if the Steelers and Mike Tomlin lighten his workload in the 2022-2023 season.

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