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Steelers' defensive tackle Cameron Heyward was on the NFL Network's Good Morning Football today and talked about a myriad of things from this year's draft class to the numerous pundits who are counting out the Steelers in 2021.
When speaking of the Steelers' draft class, Heyward had great things to say about first-round pick Najee Harris out of Alabama. Harris is the bell-cow running back that Mike Tomlin and the Steelers have been craving for and they believe that they finally got their guy.
"I think as a defender, we're most excited to have him," Heyward said of Harris. "Having a guy like that that can tote the rock 30 to 40 times a game really puts an ease for the defense. He can do multiple things. I think the investment in our offense this offseason has been huge."
The Steelers finished dead last in rushing yards per game (84.4) and yards per carry (3.6) last season, and Ben Roethlisberger attempted 608 passes, which was the third-most in the league. So, the Steelers were certainly one-dimensional and by the time December hit, defenses figured them out and as result, the entire team faded down the stretch, losing five of their last six games, including the embarrassing first-round playoff game loss to the Browns.
"I think we lost a lot of gas as we went down that stretch," Heyward said.
"I think our balance between our offense and defense wasn't great. We weren't getting off the field as much we were earlier in the season, and then our offense couldn't sustain drives. You compound all that together, and it wasn't a great success. Going forward, I think we can continue to keep growing."
Being able to establish a solid rushing attack with Harris will take a lot of weight off Roethlisberger's shoulders and will present a balanced offense, which hasn't been the case in the last three seasons for the Steelers due to their horrendous running game. It will also allow the Steelers to control the clock and grind out games in the fourth quarter, which will help the defense in the process as Heyward mentioned.