Steelers’ Najee Harris Has Perfect Response About Advice for TJ Watt

Najee Harris

Joe Sargent/Getty Images Najee Harris of the Pittsburgh Steelers on August 21, 2021.

On Sunday Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro outside linebacker T.J. Watt is slated to go against rookie offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood when the Las Vegas Raiders visit Heinz Field for Pittsburgh’s home opener. Leatherwood blocked for Steelers rookie running back Najee Harris while the two played together at Alabama, so it’s no surprise that Harris was asked on Friday if he had a scouting report for his current teammate.

“Good luck, I guess,” offered Harris, which evoked a round of laughter from the assembled media. Pre-conceived or not, it was the ideal response to the question, as it conveyed a measure of respect for his longtime college teammate. But Harris’ answer also could be interpreted as advice for the 22-year-old Leatherwood, who will have his hands full going against the highest-paid defender in the NFL.


Per PFF, Alex Leatherwood Was the Lowest-Graded Tackle in Week 1

Leatherwood—who stands 6-foot-6 and weighs 312 pounds—had a shaky outing during his NFL debut against the Baltimore Ravens this past Monday night, as illustrated by his Pro Football Focus (PFF) grades. Going against veteran Justin Houston, Leatherwood produced a 60.7 run blocking grade but received just a 34.1 in pass protection. That left him with a 39.4 overall mark, the lowest grade in the NFL among the league’s 64 offensive tackles.

For point of reference, Leatherwood came in immediately below Tennessee Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan, who was responsible for two of the five sacks recorded by Arizona Cardinals edge rusher Chandler Jones in the game between their respective teams. He was three slots below Ravens right tackle Alejandro Villanueva, who had a rough time on the field—and on social media—when going against the Raiders this past Monday night.

All in all, Leatherwood allowed two sacks and five pressures and committed two penalties over the course of 86 snaps vs. Baltimore, 61 of which involved pass protection. That’s an ominous sign in terms of going against the Steelers, especially considering that T.J. Watt got off to a strong start in Pittsburgh’s regular-season opener. Per Pro Football Reference, Watt recorded two of Pittsburgh’s three sacks and forced a fumble, while also recording five quarterback hits and three solo tackles.

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T.J. Watt Isn’t Worried About Alex Leatherwood

Regardless, Pittsburgh’s perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate isn’t spending too much time worrying about Alex Leatherwood, at least not specifically.

Asked if he has spoken to Najee Harris about Leatherwood, Watt told the media, “No, I haven’t even asked him. That’s the thing. This time of year there’s only one or two games—only a handful of snaps that you can look at opposing offensive linemen—so it’s more about focusing on yourself and getting yourself in the best situation to throw your best pitches come game day.”

For Watt and the rest of his Steelers teammates, first pitch, if you will, is on Sunday Sept. 19 at 1 p.m. ET.

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