There have been several Najee Harris stories this offseason. First there was one about him gaining weight (a large workhorse back gaining weight in the offseason, go figure). Now there's one saying the Steelers are discussing reducing his role. OK.

If I have Harris in a league, I hope the Steelers actually do this. Recall that LeVeon Bell was used/overused to the point that he held out an entire season before finally getting out of Pittsburgh, and that he was essentially washed up at age 27 -- it can be debated whether this was the Steelers fault, or his own. But I think giving running backs a breather on occasion in the interests of prolonging their careers results in long-term value that overshadows the short-term loss.

The fact is that taking Harris off the field for some plays -- if it actually happens, which remains to be seen -- would likely help him down the road, and maybe even this season. Because he was more of a team workhorse than any other running back last season, by a wide margin.

Harris accounted for 75 percent of the Steelers' rushing attempts last year, and 76 percent of the team's rushing yards. That's a greater share of the rushing workload than any other running back; only Joe Mixon and Jonathan Taylor were even close. Factor in the fact that he caught 30 more passes than either of those players, and you've got a whole of extra pounding and punishment for Harris than any other back. (Taylor, who actually had more carries because of the difference in rushing attempts for the two offenses, is the only one who had nearly as many total touches.)

Najee Harris, Pitt.3071200775%76%70%
Joe Mixon, Cin.29212051367%69%81%
Jonathan Taylor, Ind.33218111867%71%82%
Dalvin Cook, Min.2491159655%60%60%
Antonio Gibson, Was.2581037754%50%54%
Josh Jacobs, L.V.217872952%54%64%
Ezekiel Elliott, Dall.23710021050%47%67%
Sony Michel, LAR208845450%50%40%
Austin Ekeler, LAC2069111249%50%67%
David Montgomery, Chi.225849747%42%50%
Alvin Kamara, N.O.240898447%45%33%
Nick Chubb, Cle.2281259847%51%40%
Leonard Fournette, T.B.180812847%49%44%
Melvin Gordon, Den.203918845%45%50%
Javonte Williams, Den.203903445%45%25%
AJ Dillon, G.B.187803542%42%38%
James Robinson, Jac.164767842%44%62%
Elijah Mitchell, S.F.207963541%44%23%
Damien Harris, N.E.2029291541%43%63%
Devin Singletary, Buff.188870741%39%35%
James Conner, Ari.2027521541%36%65%
Derrick Henry, Ten.2199371040%39%43%
Myles Gaskin, Mia.173612339%39%25%
Cordarrelle Patterson, Atl.153618639%43%55%
Michael Carter, NYJ147639439%38%29%
Saquon Barkley, NYG162593239%35%25%
Aaron Jones, G.B.171799438%42%31%
Chuba Hubbard, Car.172612538%33%29%
Jamaal Williams, Det.153601336%32%25%
Darrell Henderson, LAR149688535%41%50%
D'Andre Swift, Det.151617535%33%42%
Mike Davis, Atl.138503335%35%27%
Devontae Booker, NYG145593235%35%25%
Darrel Williams, K.C.144558633%29%38%
Alexander Mattison, Min.134491330%25%30%
Rex Burkhead, Hou.122427329%30%38%
Rashaad Penny, Sea.119749629%36%33%
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, K.C.119517428%26%25%
Tony Pollard, Dall.130719227%34%13%
Rhamondre Stevenson, N.E.133606527%28%21%
Ronald Jones, T.B.101428426%26%22%
Alex Collins, Sea.108411226%20%11%
Devonta Freeman, Balt.133576526%23%28%
Miles Sanders, Phi.137754025%28%0%

In any case, I'm not certain I buy this preseason talk. The Steelers have Benny Snell, who averaged just 2.7 yards per attempt on his 36 attempts a year ago, Anthony McFarland (who has 36 attempts in two seasons), Trey Edmunds (31 attempts in five) and a couple of undrafted rookies on the roster. I suppose Snell or McFarland could get some extra chances, but it doesn't seem particularly likely they're going to suddenly give either player much work after not using them a year ago. I drafted Harris in a best-ball league last week, but didn't see enough in either of those veterans to even merit using a last-round pick on them (maybe a rookie emerges, or Pittsburgh adds another back to serve as the backup). Snell wasn't drafted in that league, while McFarland was a 28th-round pick.

So I'm hoping Harris does get more of a breather at times than he did a year ago. But we'll see. For right now, talk is cheap, and it's a team without much of an alternative (and no history of using backups). If this story causes Harris to slip a few spots in drafts, sounds good to me.

--Andy Richardson