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'Motivated' Steelers RB Najee Harris dropping weight ahead of contract year

We have our first "motivated player drops weight in search of a big season" storyline of the NFL offseason.

This year, the seasonal trope concerns Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris, whose fifth-year option was declined by the club.

"He's motivated, to say the least," Harris' trainer, Josh Scott, told Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Scott estimated that Harris, listed at 242 pounds, dropped to around 235. The trainer called his client "extremely clean -- almost obsessively clean -- with his diet," which aided the weight drop.

In the three seasons since the Steelers made him a first-round pick in 2021, Harris has surpassed the 1,000-yard mark each campaign. However, that success came more with bulk than efficiency. Harris has averaged 3.9 yards per carry in his career. In 2023, Harris set a career-high with a 4.1 YPC average on a career-low 255 carries.

The Steelers declined Harris' fifth-year option, making 2024 the running back's contract year.

"It's all fueling his fire to have an even better season than last year and prove a lot of people wrong," Scott said. "There's a lot of people that hate on him for whatever reason, but he's been as consistent as you can be. He's durable. I think he's going to continue with that. I mean, contract season, that pretty much speaks for itself."

Durability has never been a question for Harris, who hasn't missed a start in his career. Explosiveness is the element that is lacking in his game. The back hopes dropping weight could lead to bigger burst in a contract year.

The Steelers will gladly take a motivated Harris in the final year of his pact and figure out the future down the road.

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