Steelers’ Najee Harris Weighs More Than Major Jerome Bettis Ahead of NFL Season Two

Najee Harris approached Jerome Bettis shortly after being drafted by the Steelers last spring. Along with watching movie with Bettis, Harris took something else from the Hall of Fame running back playbook. Harris is currently 244 pounds (h/t The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly), a gain of about ten pounds over what Harris said he weighed as a rookie.

That’s a pound heavier than Bettis when she arrived in Pittsburgh in 1996.

Bettis used his size to rush for 1,431 yards and 11 touchdowns during his first season in Pittsburgh. Harris certainly expects similar success this season after rewriting the Steelers rookie record book in 2021. Despite playing behind a rebuilt offensive line, Harris still managed to run for a Steelers rookie record of 1,200 yards. He also set the Steelers rookie record with 1,647 total yards. For his efforts, Harris won the Pro Bowl while helping the Steelers earn a playoff berth during Ben Roethlisberger’s final season.

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The epitome of a physical running back, Bettis has made a career bowling over minor defenders. Bettis sees similar qualities in Harris, the first running back selected in the 2021 NFL Draft.

“He’s the modern NFL back-up,” Bettis said of Harris ahead of the start of his rookie season. “He’s got the speed, he’s got the power, but he’s also got the hands to get out of the back field and make plays outside that offensive line.”

He may be a modern quarterback, but Harris plays on an old-school system as far as running back is concerned. While many teams have gone to two back systems, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin remains a prominent back fan. That’s one of the reasons the Steelers invested a first-round pick in Harris last spring.

Durability is key for Harris, given how often the Steelers call his number. But despite last year’s heavy workload (Harris had 381 touches last season, 10 more than last year’s racing champion Jonathan Taylor), Harris constantly ignored questions about his physical well-being at the end of the season. 2021 season. He answered these questions by having two of his best performances at the end of the season; a 93-yard performance against the Chiefs in Week 16 and a 188-yard display in a Week 17 win over Cleveland.

Harris will again be an integral part of the Pittsburgh offense in 2022, but his workload could be lighter this season with the additions of rookies George Pickens and Calvin Austin III. Harris will also be aided by what should be an improved offensive line after the Steelers signed infielders James Daniels and Mason Cole from free agency.

Regardless of how much he’s used, Harris is gearing up for another heavy workload in 2022. In the process, Harris will likely continue his assault on the Steelers’ running records while conjuring up memories of one of the team’s iconic coastlines of the past.

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