Running backs coach Eddie Faulkner confirmed Najee Harris' firmly entrenched status as "RB1" today and ongoing conversations with Harris about improving his production while dealing with the individual and collective struggles Harris and the Steelers are enduring.
"When you develop relationships with your guys and you care about them as humans and people you want to talk them trough issues that they're having, so that's always the conversation," Faulkner said. "Whether we're sitting here undefeated, or with our current record, that's always going to be my approach in dealing with it. And when you're dealing with somebody like Najee, who cares so much, then, yeah, obviously you're going to have those conversations because he's frustrated as everybody.
"He wants to do well. He wants us to win, so those are our conversations and that's not gonna change regardless of what the scenario might be or the circumstance for our team."
Harris carried four times for 0 yards in the first half and ended up with 32 yards on eight attempts and six catches for 26 yards in last Sunday's 35-13 loss at Philadelphia.
He emerged with 108 rushes for 361 yards (an average of 3.3 yards per carry) and one touchdown rushing and 12 catches for 112 yards and two TDs on the season.
Harris also took the loss to the Eagles hard, as has been his habit in such situations.
"It's rough right now," he said Sunday. "It's obvious, we lack a lot of stuff. We lack a lot of experience. We lack a lot of discipline, accountability.
"We lack a lot."
Harris also pointed out he "can't make the holes," during his somber postgame media session.
"He just wants to win," Faulkner said. "He was the same way last year. He wants to win. He wants to do everything he can and that's heavy on his heart.
"That's what you see, a guy who really, really cares."
Faulkner remains committed to working with Harris to rediscover the game Harris put on display a year ago.
He rushed for 1,200 yards and seven touchdowns on 307 attempts (3.9 per) and caught 74 pass for 467 yards and three scores as a first-round pick out of Alabama (24th overall) in 2021.
Harris' 381 touches led the NFL and
"I have all the belief I've always had in him," Faulkner said. "We'll continue to just come in and work on it and look at what we need to improve and go from there.
"I'm consistently talking to him about looking at, 'Here's what you see. Tell me what you see.' Talking through it, he regurgitates that to me and then he goes and operates on the field as he sees things and reacts. That's the running back position, you see color flash one way, you make a decision on where you run from that.
"Those are always the conversations whether he was rushing for 150 yards a game or if they were struggling and everything in between. That's just the approach we're gonna take to it and that won't change.
"He wants to do well. He wants the team to do well. It means a lot to him. Nobody cares more than that dude. When that's the case you're always continuing to remind him, 'Hey, man, we just need you to be yourself. We just need you to go do what Najee Harris is capable of doing and cleanse yourself of any other baggage that you're toting.'
"That's always my communication to him, it's been like that for two years."
Harris, named an offensive captain this season as a second-year pro, was as upbeat following practice today as he had been sullen in Philadelphia.
"I attack every day like we're 0-0," he said. "I know that, obviously, things take time. This is only my second year. I'm not like a four-year vet, I know all the answers. I'm just a second-year person. What are we, 2-6? It's the eighth game of my second year. I don't have all the answers yet. I'm still learning right now. I'm not here to point fingers at all. We're all just trying to get better.
"We're not really sound as an offense, we're just not there yet. And I think anybody on this team would agree with me about that. We're not quite there yet in a lot of spots, a lot of ways. I think it's gonna come together, it just takes time.
"I don't know when, I can't tell you what date. But I know if we all keep coming here day by day, one day at a time and we keep attacking and put our head down and keep grinding, we'll be straight."