Steelers bye week check up: Running backs

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It’s Week Seven of the NFL season and the Pittsburgh Steelers are on their bye week. Let’s run down the positional units for a check-up and talk a little bit about what we saw and look ahead to the final 11 games of the season.

Najee Harris is the man

Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

It took a couple of weeks for Najee Harris and the offensive line to get on the same page but the plan is starting to come together. Harris is currently 8th in the NFL in rushing yards with 388 yards on 102 carries. Modest numbers but once you figure in his 244 receiving yards, things look better. Harris also has four total touchdowns.

New backup Kalen Ballage

(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

In the preseason I said Kalen Ballage was the second-best running back on the team and now he is starting to show it. Ballage has overtaken Benny Snell as the team’s primary backup and is starting to run the football very well.

Speaking of Benny Snell Jr.

(AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

The Steelers put all their collective eggs into the basket of Harris and the hope that Benny Snell could back him up. It felt like a bad strategy from the beginning and Snell has been a non-factor. In fact, he’s been overtaken by Ballage and relegated to third string.

The return of Anthony McFarland

(AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

It shouldn’t be long after the bye week the Steelers will have Anthony McFarland Jr. back in the fold after starting the season on IR. McFarland should add a dynamic element to the run game. I expect McFarland to overtake Ballage at some point as the guy to spell Harris.

Looking ahead

Samantha Madar/Green Bay Press Gazette via USA TODAY NETWORK

If the offensive line can keep improving, Harris has unlimited potential. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada is finding ways to get Harris more and more involved in the offense and give this offense some balance.

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