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Najee Harris On Pace For Record Numbers

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Najee Harris On Pace For Record Numbers

It comes as no surprise to anyone who is part of Steeler Nation that when the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Alabama running back Najee Harris with the 24th pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, that they envisioned him being a large part of their offense.

However, I am not sure anyone thought he would be involved to the extent that he has been through his first 6 career games.

Harris currently leads all rookies in touches, and by a fairly wide margin. The current total touch tally for him currently sits at 136, which is 51 more than Chubba Hubbard who has the second most. Those 136 touches are a combination of 102 rushing attempts and 34 receptions.

If you were to extrapolate the touches Harris has received so far through a 17-game season, he would end up with 289 rushing attempts and about 96 receptions, which adds up to 385 total touches.

If he were to reach those numbers, he would finish with the 6th most touches by a rookie in NFL history, as well as the most by a Steelers rookie by almost 100 touches more than the previous number.



Le’Veon Bell is the current rookie touch leader for the Steelers as he recorded 289 touches, 244 rushing attempts and 45 receptions, across his 13 games in 2013. If you were to expand Bell’s numbers into a healthy 17-game season (they only played 16 during Bell’s rookie season), then Bell would still fall short of Harris’ projected mark with a total of 378 touches.

Harris is also on pace to break another Steelers rookie record for receptions as a rookie. The current leader in that category is Chase Claypool who set that record just last season with 62. Based on his current usage, Harris will pass Claypool’s rookie reception number by the end of Week 12.

Those stats speak for themselves, as Harris is the focal point of the Steelers offense and has been used more than any rookie in Steelers history, even though Bell came close on a per game basis.

But he is also in unique company when you look across the entire NFL as I mentioned above, he would have the 6th most touches by a rookie ever. The names above him are Eric Dickerson (441), Edgerrin James (431), LaDainian Tomlinson (398), Curtis Martin (398), and George Rogers (394).

That is some damn good company.



The first four names listed are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame while Rogers is a multiple time All-Pro and Pro Bowler. I don’t think anyone would complain if Harris continued to follow in their footsteps in terms of on-the-field performance.

In addition to finishing 6th in total touches, Harris is also on pace with his current workload to break the record for most receptions by a rookie running back which was set by Saquon Barkley in 2018 with 91. Harris’ projected total of 96 would surpass that number by 5, but he also has the potential at a 17th game which Barkley didn’t have in 2018.

Now, there is an expectation the Steelers might be able to scale back Harris’ workload a little with the return of second year running back Anthony McFarland anticipated in the next week, and that could limit his ability to hit these totals. That would likely be a good thing however, as he is the focal point of their offense so keeping him fresh for a full season will be key.


Let us know below what you think about Harris’ usage so far during his rookie season! Click to comment below!


I’ve been a freelance sports writer for several years, centered around football, baseball, basketball, and fantasy sports. I’m born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio and a diehard Steelers fan. I love sharing my thoughts and opinions on all things sports, especially when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers. I also received my BS in Chemical Engineering from The Ohio State University in 2016, and have a career in Material Research and Development. Follow me on Twitter!

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