Najee Harris occupying Troy Polamalu’s outdated locker; Steelers RB embracing new management function

The winds of change have swept by way of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ locker room. With Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement this offseason, there are not any members of Pittsburgh’s final Tremendous Bowl workforce at the moment on the roster. The lockers of these gamers are actually being occupied by a brand new wave of Steelers who’re making an attempt so as to add to the franchise’s assortment of championship {hardware}. 

The previous locker of certainly one of Roethlisberger’s most well-known teammates, Corridor of Fame security Troy Polamalu, is at the moment being occupied by Najee Harris (h/t Jim Wexell of Metal Metropolis Insider), who’s at the moment being groomed by Mike Tomlin and defensive captain Cam Heyward as a brand new workforce chief. 

“I am bridging the transitional leadership-relationship between Cam Heyward and Najee,” Tomlin mentioned on The Pivot Podcast. “Najee is a frontrunner. He was a born chief. He is acquired good soccer morals. He sees the sport the best way we see the sport. He desires to be part of what’s proper, in order that must be cultivated. That must be educated. … We’re not going to ask him to steer with out educating him how you can do it, what it appears to be like like, what it entails, not solely in our phrases however in our actions.”

Tomlin’s reward rapidly acquired again to Harris, who responded through social media. 

“Acquired the upmost respect for this dude,” Harris wrote. “Every little thing he speaks is the reality. I am nonetheless studying daily. I am very happy I acquired these folks in my nook.” 


Tomlin shared one instance of how Heyward exuded management by way of his actions. Final December, upon studying that Harris had no Christmas decorations arrange inside his dwelling, Tomlin enlisted Heyward to deal with the matter. 

“Cam Heyward had a Christmas tree delivered to his home that evening,” Tomlin recalled. “Ornaments and all of that stuff. … That is acquired nothing to do with soccer. We simply need him to know that we’d like sure issues from him in a soccer method, and so we’ll assist him with the opposite elements of his life as a result of I can not run the ball, and neither can Cam Heyward.” 

Harris is hoping to have extra success this season after rewriting the Steelers’ rookie document books in 2021. Regardless of taking part in behind a rebuilt offensive line, Harris nonetheless managed to run for a Steelers rookie document 1,200 yards. He additionally set the Steelers’ rookie document with 1,647 all-purpose yards. For his efforts, Harris earned Professional Bowl honors whereas serving to the Steelers seize a playoff berth throughout Roethlisberger’s ultimate season.

He could also be a contemporary energy again, however Harris performs in an old-school system so far as the operating again place is worried. Whereas many groups have gone to two-back techniques, Tomlin stays a fan of the featured again. That is one of many the explanation why the Steelers used a first-round choose to accumulate Harris, who helped lead Alabama to a nationwide title his ultimate season in Tuscaloosa. 

Sturdiness is important for Harris, given how typically the Steelers name his quantity. However regardless of final 12 months’s heavy workload (Harris had 381 touches final season, 10 greater than final 12 months’s speeding champion, Jonathan Taylor), Harris continually dismissed questions on his bodily well-being late within the 2021 season. He responded to these questions by having two of his greatest performances late within the season; a 93-yard speeding efficiency towards the Chiefs in Week 16 and a 188-yard displaying in a Week 17 win over Cleveland. 

Harris will once more be an integral a part of Pittsburgh’s offense in 2022, however his workload could also be lighter this season with the offseason additions of rookie receivers George Pickens and Calvin Austin III. Harris may also be aided by what must be an improved offensive line after the Steelers picked up inside linemen James Daniels and Mason Cole in free company. 

“That dude’s a bell cow,” Tomlin mentioned of his 24-year-old operating again. “He will must be a bell cow for us. If this prepare’s going wherever in 2022, he’ll be a significant element of it, and he is succesful. I am not even speaking about from a expertise standpoint; we all know that. I am speaking about he is succesful from an intangible standpoint, bringing the perfect out in his teammates, carrying the duty that comes with main. He is simply younger. It has been a enjoyable undertaking.” 

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