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Najee Harris believes Steelers will use him in passing game

Steelers RB primed for bell cow role as three-down back his rookie year

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Roland Rivers practice at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex during rookie minicamp, Friday, May 14, 2021 in Pittsburgh, PA. Mandatory Credit: Caitlyn Epes/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports Handout Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers’ first round draft pick Najee Harris told reporters he believes the team will use him in the passing game “a lot,” per The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly. Harris was used as a receiving back at Alabama, with his best receiving season coming last year. In 2020 he caught 43 passes for 425 yards and four touchdowns.

Harris also said the team was lining him up as a receiver during mini-camp. At 6-foot-1, 232 pounds, Harris isn’t going to do much lined up out wide, but there’s little doubt that Harris is primed to be the every-down back for Pittsburgh.

Last season was disastrous for the Steelers running game, as they averaged just 3.8 yards per carry, worst in the league, while they finished third to last in total yards rushing. In-turn their passing game became their de facto running game as they passed short instead of rushing the ball. That was seen in Ben Roethlisberger’s 27th ranked 6.25 yards per attempt and third-most pass attempts at 608. And those pass attempts showed that Roethlisberger’s arm wasn’t quite up to that volume.

Harris should help make those pass attempts more efficient, as the running game will be better and his targets to Harris in the passing game should set their rookie running back up for plenty of yards after the catch. Harris is truly primed for a strong fantasy football season, as his backups consist of Benny Snell Jr., Anthony McFarland and Kalen Ballage.