One of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ key offensive weapons may be in danger of losing his starting job, according to an NFL insider.
ESPN’ Dan Graziano offered “potential surprises” for each of the 32 NFL teams heading into the 2023 season. For the Steelers, Graziano explained that star running back Najee Harris could lose the RB1 role to Jaylen Warren:
“Yes, Najee Harris was the team’s first-round pick in 2021. Yes, he has been a productive and reliable No. 1 back in his first two years, even as the offense overall struggled…So Harris is still firmly in the Steelers’ plans and opens the season as their top back.
But Warren’s performance in practice and games has demanded a larger role for him than what Pittsburgh had planned a year ago. He has shown the ability to spell Harris whenever asked, and he has actually looked more explosive in some areas. Unless Harris looks more like the 2021 version of himself than the 2022 version, Warren’s opportunity could increase dramatically as the year goes on. Warren, a 2022 undrafted free agent, took 77 carries for 379 yards last season.”
The 25-year-old Harris was taken 24th by the Steelers last season, and he has certainly been a dynamic playmaker on a team that finished 21st and 26th in scoring in the 2021 and 2022 campaigns, respectively.
Harris surpassed 1,000 yards rushing in each of his first two seasons to go along with 115 receptions for 696 yards and six touchdowns. So it’s awfully hard to envision the Steelers reducing his role as long as Harris continues to move the ball.
But as Graziano pointed out, Warren’s strong production this summer could prompt the Steelers to give him the ball more. Of course, Harris won’t have to sweat about losing his RB1 role if he continues to push for 1,000 yards rushing.
The Steelers will begin their 2023 season with a home game against the San Francisco 49ers at Acrisure Stadium on Sept. 10.
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