The Pittsburgh Steelers will be sporting a revamped offense in 2024. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada has been replaced by Arthur Smith and Russell Wilson is likely to start the season at QB. The Steelers also made significant investments in their offensive line and added some new weapons for Wilson. One former Super Bowl champion recently stood up for Steelers RBs Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren as players to watch in 2024.

On a recent episode of the Bleav in Steelers podcast, co-hosts Ike Taylor and Mark Bergin were discussing the Steelers' 2024 regular season schedule. While discussing the Week 4 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts, co-host Mark Bergin mentioned that the colts have a dynamic running game with Anthony Richardson, Jonathan Taylor, and a stout offensive line headlined by Quentin Nelson.

Ike Taylor quickly jumped in to defend the Steelers running game.

“I guess you ain't respecting Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren behind a revamped offensive line, but hey,” Taylor said while shrugging his shoulders.

It doesn't seem like Bergin mentioned the Colts running game to throw shade at the Steelers. Ike Taylor felt the need to stick up for Harris and Warren because they are one of the most underrated running back duos in the NFL.

That narrative is starting to shift. Harris and Warren are gaining more exposure after a strong end to the 2023 season. The Steelers rushed for more than 100 yards per game and six total TDs in their final four games of the season last year, including the playoffs.

ESPN's Mina Kimes recently praised Warren as one of the most complete backs in the entire league.

Who will be the leading rusher for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2024? 

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris (22) and Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Warren (30) during the second half against the Seattle Seahawks
© Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

How productive will Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren be during the 2024 NFL season?

In 2023, the Pittsburgh Steelers rushed for 2,010 yards and 16 TDs as a team. Here's how that split out between Harris and Warren.

Najee Harris

  • 255 carries
  • 1,035 rushing yards
  • 4.1 yards per carry
  • 8 TDs

Jaylen Warren

  • 149 carries
  • 784 rushing yards
  • 5.3 yards per carry
  • 4 TDs

Pittsburgh produced these results behind an offensive line that PFF graded as the 11th best run blocking unit in the NFL in 2023. It's fair to wonder whether rookies Troy Fautanu, Mason McCormick, and Zach Frazier will be an upgrade on the left side of the line. The rookies may take some time to gain chemistry before they start playing well.

There are also schematic changes when moving from Matt Canada's offense to Arthur Smith's. Pittsburgh could be even more run-heavy under Smith.

Ultimately, the leading rusher in Pittsburgh will likely be whoever is given the most opportunities. Jaylen Warren is a more efficient running back than Najee Harris, but efficiency isn't always better than volume. Harris could easily repeat as the Steelers' leading rusher if he continues to eclipse Warren by 100 carries a season.

However, it's possible that the workload shifts in favor of Warren. The Steelers decided to decline Najee's fifth-year option, which suggests they don't have long-term plans for him. We may see Arthur Smith deploy Jaylen Warren in a Bijan Robinson-type role and Najee Harris as the Tyler Allgeier-type power option.

We should mention Justin Fields as well, but it is unlikely that he leads the team in rushing unless he manages to win the starting job in training camp.