Najee Harris led the NFL with 381 touches last season and became the first rookie in league history with 300-plus carries and 70-plus receptions. He was the workhorse of all workhorses.
Earlier this offseason, Harris discussed the Steelers' plan to lessen his workload by taking certain plays off.
Joining the Rich Eisen Show earlier this week, Harris made it clear he's open to whatever workload the team needs to win. Eisen asked Harris if he could go for 400 touches in 2022.
"I'll get 500 (expletive)," he responded. "Listen, I didn't have an issue with it. It was the media who had an issue with it. I told them every game, 'If this is the way we're winning, I can carry the load.' I train to carry loads. It's not something that I haven't done before. I did it in college, high school, NFL. For me to get that much carries, I was like, man, is we winning games? It was a long streak where someone was saying if I have 25 carries, then we're undefeated. So OK, this is our identity right here. Let's keep this going on, let's keep this going. Listen, if I get 500 carries, as long as we're winning, it doesn't really matter."
For record-keeping purposes, no player in NFL history has ever had 500 touches in a season. The top is James Wilder with 492 in 1984 with Tampa Bay, per Pro Football Reference. Larry Johnson sits second with 457 in 2006 with Kansas City.
Harris rushed 307 times for 1,200 yards and seven touchdowns and added 74 catches for 467 yards and three additional scores during his Pro Bowl rookie campaign.
Entering Year 2, it makes sense for the Steelers to try to lessen Harris' workload. The question is whether they have a backup capable of keeping the offense moving when he's on the sideline. The Steelers currently have Benny Snell, Anthony McFarland, Trey Edmunds and undrafted Mataeo Durant and Jaylen Warren in the backfield. We'll see during training camp who rises up to earn snaps behind Harris.
Harris said he'll do whatever is needed to help buoy whoever wins the quarterback battle, whether it's Mitchell Trubisky, rookie Kenny Pickett or Mason Rudolph. But the running back declined to make a judgment on which QB has an edge as the Steelers set to open training camp at Saint Vincent College next week.
"I'm just a player. I'm not the coach," he said. "… All the guys that we have there, they all look good -- Trubisky, Mason and of course Kenny -- all of them look good. They're all battling it out. They're all taking charge. They're all embracing what it is. The competition, I think that's what brings out the best in all of us in this sport is the competition. For them to bring these guys in and to compete it out and battle it out and know your job isn't secured yet, I think that brings out the best in us. I think when this camp starts up on the 26th, we're going to have a good identity of who's gonna be the guy. But as of now, we've had OTAs, rookie minicamp, it's kind of hard to say who's the guy right now. But this upcoming week, we're gonna see for sure."
Whoever wins the job, Harris will play a vital role in the offense's success in 2022, even if he falls well short of 500 touches.