Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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Steelers RB Najee Harris motivated to ‘prove a lot of people wrong’ in 2024, trainer says

Already a workaholic, Najee Harris has upped the ante this offseason. The Pittsburgh Steelers running back is in tip-top shape as he continues to prepare for the upcoming season, his last one under his rookie contract after Pittsburgh declined to pick up his fifth-year option. 

Harris’ offseason has included making modifications to his diet as well as purchasing his own 1080 Sprint machine. Harris would probably be working hard anyways, but it’s safe to say that outside factors are keeping him motivated. 

“It’s all fueling his fire to have an even better season than last year and prove a lot of people wrong,” Harris’ trainer, Josh Scott, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Brian Batko. “There’s a lot of people that hate on him for whatever reason, but he’s been as consistent as you can be. He’s durable. I think he’s going to continue with that. I mean, contract season, that pretty much speaks for itself.” 

Batko’s story includes several good nuggets about Harris, who is hoping that his offseason work will help him string together more long runs in 2024. Big plays has been one of the only things missing from Harris’ NFL resume, which includes being the first Steelers running back to rush for over 1,000 yards in each of his first three seasons. 

As Scott alluded to, Harris has been extremely durable. He’s never missed an NFL game and had the ball in his hands for 27 percent of Pittsburgh’s offensive snaps in 2023. Harris often plays his best football down the stretch, another example of his impressive physical stamina. In Pittsburgh’s final three games of the 2023 season, Harris rushed for 312 yards and five touchdowns as the Steelers won each game while earning a wild card playoff spot. 

While possibly surprised, Harris apparently holds no ill will toward the Steelers regarding their decision to not pick up his option. Harris knows that there’s a possible benefit to possibly getting the chance to enter free agency next offseason. If he plays well this season, he will only increase his market value, which will surely be more than what he would have made under the fifth-year option. 

Contracts aside, Harris is also motivated to help the Steelers make a playoff run, something that hasn’t happened since 2016. 

“We’ve got to be more disciplined,” Harris said shortly after Pittsburgh’s season-ending loss to Buffalo in the 2023 wild card round. “We’ve got to be more committed. I’m not saying that we’re not, but coming from a place that has structure and coming and just seeing, we could probably get help in these areas; make a change. I think that’s something that could help.” 

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