(Screenshot of Harris speaking with reporters via the Steelers YouTube page)
After two weeks of training camp practices, Steelers players will finally get the chance to compete and hit someone other than their teammates, as the Steelers square off against the Cowboys in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio on Thursday night.
As typical for the first preseason contest, many of the Steelers starters will not play in the game, but first-round pick running back Najee Harris says he wants to take as many game reps as he can on Thursday night. Mike Tomlin probably thinks otherwise.
"The excitement's there for sure. It's the difference between being excited and knowing that it's not the real thing," Harris said. "It's a gateway to get your feet wet and let the game slow down for me. I'm trying to play as much as I can in that game. I want to take as many game reps as possible - good, bad, whatever - and do whatever I can and go into the film room, break down film, and keep working."
Harris has been working with a makeshift offensive line so far in training camp -- a group that's already expected to feature new starters at all five positions -- as Kevin Dotson, Chuks Okorafor and Zach Banner have been out.
The offensive line reportedly struggled immensely at yesterday's practice, which is to be expected with most of the starters out, but Harris still was able to make a run out of nothing on one particular carry in which he broke a tackle from Cameron Heyward in the backfield and picked up five yards.
"The line is what it is, man. It is what it is," Harris said. "Like I said, my job is to do what I can every run to help out the team. My job is to do everything I can to create better situations so we can create better down and distance for the team. I believe in whoever's in front of me. Right now we're just breaking bread, getting used to everybody, but it's my job to create something when nothing's there. My job is to hit the holes when there's something there. There's going to be something there. It's just my job."
Given the status of the offensive line and it being the first preseason game, I wouldn't be surprised if Tomlin just sat Harris against Dallas. It's just too risky to play Harris in a meaningless game. Remember Shaun Suisham in the Hall of Fame Game in 2015 when he suffered a season-ending ACL injury? Yeah, just save Harris for the second preseason game against the Eagles.