Now that training camp is over with the Pittsburgh Steelers back in Pittsburgh and gearing up for what they hope will be a much more productive season, it’s time to take stock of where the team stands. Specifically, where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of training camp and the preseason and the regular season as it plays out. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning for each one. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: RB Jaylen Warren
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: The rookie running back was cleared to return to practice on Wednesday after missing this week’s game and appears to be on track to play on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. He could potentially have a starting role in week 13 if Najee Harris has to miss time due to the oblique injury he suffered in the Colts game.
If the past two days are any indication, it would appear that rookie running back Jaylen Warren is going to get the opportunity to make his first career start. Having missed Monday’s game due to injury, he has been a full go through practice thus far, while starting running back Najee Harris has been idle while nursing an oblique injury.
Should that be the case, the burden would fall upon his shoulders to continue the positive trajectory the Steelers offense has seen in the running game over the course of the past few weeks. The team has run the ball well overall since the bye week, and they did so perhaps especially on Monday.
Yet they did that primarily with both Harris and Warren sidelined, instead calling upon Benny Snell Jr. and Anthony McFarland Jr. to assume the responsibilities of the position, particularly in the second half after Harris was ruled out for the remainder of the game.
There is no reason that getting Warren back wouldn’t enhance what they have going, of course. He has had a very promising rookie season and has been productive when given the opportunity. Overall, at least, though as I have pointed out previously, his numbers on first down must get better.
It would be very interesting to see him get a start, quite frankly, with everything that goes along with it. While he has gotten a good amount of playing time, the reality is that a lot of his work has come in things such as blitz pickup.
Warren only has 54 touches on the season in 10 games. In case you don’t have a calculator handy, that only works out to 5.4 touches per game on average, although that number had been moving upward. He actually had 12 touches in his last full game, and nine the week before that.