By far, Najee Harris led all running backs in offensive snaps and the league in total touches with 381 in his rookie season. While this is all well and good — Harris gave the Pittsburgh Steelers their first 1,000-yard back since Le’Veon Bell in 2017 — the heavy load isn’t humanly possible to maintain over time.
It’s been widely reported that the Steelers are expected to lighten Harris’s workload this season, which would explain why the Steelers are finally focused on running back depth. In the days after the 2022 NFL draft, Pittsburgh signed two undrafted free agents in Mataeo Durant and Jaylen Warren. On July 26, Jeremy McNichols was inked to a one-year deal.
As any team does, particularly this time of year, the Steelers never stop looking.
On July 29, the NFL transaction wire reported Pittsburgh auditioned four players, including two running backs.
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A Look at the RBs the Steelers Brought In
Jordan Howard highlights Pittsburgh’s Friday tryouts. Nicknamed “The Bulldozer” since before his collegiate days at Indiana, Howard put on stellar performances in his first two seasons, gifting the Chicago Bears their first back-to-back rusher in franchise history.
Howard was a Pro Bowler in his 2016 rookie season, thanks to 1,313 rushing yards, six touchdowns, 298 receiving yards and another score.
Howard followed that up with 1,122 yards and a career-high nine touchdowns. With that, he became the first runner in Bears franchise history to begin his career with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.
In what ended up as his final season in Chicago, Howard duplicated his touchdown total and rushed for 935 yards.
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The Bears moved on from Howard in 2019, shipping him to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for a fifth-round pick. He appeared in just 10 games, rushing for 525 yards and six touchdowns. Howard lost the starting role to rookie Miles Sanders after he missed several weeks with a shoulder injury.
Howard had a down year in 2020 — didn’t we all — but, as a third-stringer, had a productive 2021 season with 406 yards and three scores in seven games.
The Steelers also worked out running back Josh Adams, who the Eagles signed as an undrafted free agent in 2018. Adams’s career year came as a rookie with 511 yards and three touchdowns. In his last three seasons with the New York Jets, Adams has appeared in 14 games, producing 511 yards and two touchdowns. 2020 was his most productive season, with 157 yards on 29 attempts (5.4 yards per carry).
A Look at the Others the Steelers Brought In
With Tyson Alualu on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list with knee swelling, the Pittsburgh Steelers need some help at defensive tackle.
Mike Panasiuk, 24, has spent two seasons on the Carolina Panthers practice squad.
Utah product Hauati Pututau was signed by the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent but was let go on July 26. According to the NFL’s transaction report, he was on their active PUP list but did pass a physical before he was waived.
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