Najee Harris: Give me 500 carries if it helps us win

Before the Steelers ended their offseason program in June, running back Najee Harris said that he and the team were having conversations about dialing back his workload in his second NFL season.

Harris had a league-high 381 touches during his rookie season and the discussions this spring were centered on making sure he is getting enough rest to continue producing at a high level. Harris sounded on board with that plan, but he also made it clear he’s fine going the other direction during an appearance on The Rich Eisen Show this week.

The NFL’s single-season record for carries was set in 2006 when Larry Johnson ran 416 times for the Chiefs and the single-season record for touches is the 492 that former Buccaneers running back James Wilder handled in 1984. Harris told Eisen he’s willing to go past those numbers if it means the Steelers are winning games.

“I can get 500, god damnit,” Harris said, via “I didn’t have an issue with it. It was the media who had an issue with it. I told them every game, I was like, ‘Man look, if this is the way we’re winning, I can carry the load.’ I trained to carry loads. I mean, it’s not something that I haven’t done before. I did it in college, high school, you know what I mean, NFL. . . . There 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. So, let’s keep this going on. Let’s keep this going. So, man, listen, if I get 500 carries, as long as we’re winning, it doesn’t really matter.”

With a new quarterback taking the reins of the offense in Pittsburgh, leaning on Harris would be a good way to ease the transition. That may not result in 500 carries or touches, but it may not result in much of a reduction in his workload either.