Steelers RB Najee Harris got ‘great start’ in HOF game
Najee Harris’s score in Thursday’s Hall of Fame game might not stand out, but the Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back showed why he would be the club’s workhorse in 2021.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin liked what he saw of Harris in the 16-3 win over the Dallas Cowboys.
“I thought he showed some of the things he showed in practice,” Tomlin said on the team’s official website. “That’s what we were looking for. We weren’t looking for the spectacular. I spoke to him and others over the week. We wanted to do routine games, regularly. We wanted the stack to drop. before and all that nature. He’s done everything we’ve seen him do. It’s a really good start for him.
Playing in the second quarter, Harris scored seven times off the rock for 22 yards and added a reception on a screen that lasted three yards. Harris’s 3.1 yards per carry isn’t mind-blowing, but the rookie showed the power, edge-to-edge ability and playfulness to be a three-goal RB from the start.
“He didn’t have wide eyes. He was ready for prime time, ready for action,” substitute quarterback Mason Rudolph said of Harris, via ESPN’s Brooke Pryor.
Harris’ long run lasted six, but he showed the ability to put a shoulder into a defenseman and gain extra yards after contact, something the Steelers sorely missed on their backs last season. He also has enough speed to reach the edge, has patience with the line of scrimmage and good balance. Another key was the RB’s lack of negative play. Only one of Harris’ leads lost ground. If Pittsburgh can avoid the negative losing yardage games that plagued them last year, they’re in better shape right off the bat.
Looking like a Steven Jackson line, Harris may not have taken off with a gallop on Thursday night, but he showed the qualities that will make him a difference maker in Pittsburgh. During the pre-season action, we’re not looking for massive stats from those who play, but if they display the characteristics that will endure once the real matches have started. Harris fits that bill for the Steelers.