Najee Harris occupying Troy Polamalu's old locker; Steelers RB embracing new leadership role

The winds of modification have actually swept through the Pittsburgh Steelers’ locker space. With Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement this offseason, there are no members of Pittsburgh’s last Super Bowl group presently on the lineup. The lockers of those gamers are now being inhabited by a new age of Steelers who are attempting to contribute to the franchise’s collection of champion hardware. 

The previous locker of among Roethlisberger’s most popular colleagues, Hall of Fame security Troy Polamalu, is presently being inhabited by Najee Harris (h/t Jim Wexell of Steel City Insider), who is presently being groomed by Mike Tomlin and protective captain Cam Heyward as a brand-new group leader. 

“I’m bridging the transitional leadership-relationship between Cam Heyward and Najee,” Tomlin stated on The Pivot Podcast. “Najee is a leader. He was a born leader. He’s got good football morals. He sees the game the way we see the game. He wants to be a part of what’s right, so that needs to be cultivated. That needs to be trained. … We’re not going to ask him to lead without teaching him how to do it, what it looks like, what it entails, not only in our words but in our actions.”

Tomlin’s appreciation rapidly returned to Harris, who reacted through social networks. 

“Got the upmost respect for this dude,” Harris composed. “Everything he speaks is the truth. I’m still learning every day. I’m more than happy I got these people in my corner.” 

Tomlin shared one example of how Heyward exhibited management through his actions. Last December, upon finding out that Harris had no Christmas designs established inside his house, Tomlin employed Heyward to look after the matter. 

“Cam Heyward had a Christmas tree delivered to his house that night,” Tomlin remembered. “Ornaments and all of that stuff. … That’s got nothing to do with football. We just want him to know that we need certain things from him in a football way, and so we’re going to help him with the other aspects of his life because I can’t run the ball, and neither can Cam Heyward.” 

Harris is intending to have more success this season after rewording the Steelers’ novice record books in 2021. Despite playing behind a rebuilt offending line, Harris still handled to run for a Steelers novice record 1,200 backyards. He likewise set the Steelers’ novice record with 1,647 all-purpose backyards. For his efforts, Harris made Pro Bowl honors while assisting the Steelers record a playoff berth throughout Roethlisberger’s last season.

He might be a contemporary power back, however Harris plays in an old-school system as far as the running back position is worried. While numerous groups have actually gone to two-back systems, Tomlin stays a fan of the included back. That’s among the reasons the Steelers utilized a first-round choice to get Harris, who assisted lead Alabama to a nationwide title his last season in Tuscaloosa. 

Durability is vital for Harris, offered how typically the Steelers call his number. But regardless of in 2015’s heavy work (Harris had 381 touches last season, 10 more than in 2015’s hurrying champ, Jonathan Taylor), Harris continuously rejected concerns about his physical wellness late in the 2021 season. He reacted to those concerns by having 2 of his finest efficiencies late in the season; a 93-yard hurrying efficiency versus the Chiefs in Week 16 and a 188-yard proving in a Week 17 win over Cleveland. 

Harris will once again be an essential part of Pittsburgh’s offense in 2022, however his work might be lighter this season with the offseason additions of novice receivers George Pickens and Calvin Austin III. Harris will likewise be helped by what need to be an enhanced offending line after the Steelers got interior linemen James Daniels and Mason Cole in totally free company. 

“That dude’s a bell cow,” Tomlin stated of his 24-year-old running back. “He’s going to have to be a bell cow for us. If this train’s going anywhere in 2022, he’s going to be a major component of it, and he’s capable. I’m not even talking about from a talent standpoint; we know that. I’m talking about he’s capable from an intangible standpoint, bringing the best out in his teammates, wearing the responsibility that comes with leading. He’s just young. It’s been a fun project.” 

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