Jaylen Warren has been impressive in a limited role this year, but here’s why the Pittsburgh Steelers running back could have a true breakout game in Week 13.
Since exploding onto the scene this summer during training camp and the preseason, many Pittsburgh Steelers fans have been begging to see Jaylen Warren in a larger role on offense. So far, this hasn’t happened. Warren’s offensive snaps peaked all the way back in Week 5 against the Buffalo Bills but he has yet to earn double-digit rushes in a single game this year.
This is a feat that even Benny Snell has accomplished. In Warren’s absence against the Colts on Monday Night Football and with a banged-up Najee Harris, Snell recorded a team-high 12 carries. Despite his limited usage this year, this could finally be the week when Warren has a true breakout game.
After suffering an oblique injury that forced him out of the second half of the Colts game on Monday Night Football, Najee was initially trending toward not suiting up this weekend. However, he was able to log his lone practice of the week on Friday and says he will play. Even if Harris suits up, Warren could see a career-high in touches.
Is Steelers rookie RB prepping for a breakout performance?
Jaylen Warren has seen just three carries since Week 10, as he suffered a hamstring injury very early in Week 11 against the Cincinnati Bengals. This injury not only forced him out for the remainder of the game, but it caused him to miss Week 12 against the Colts.
The good news is that Warren has been able to practice all week and should be a full go against the Atlanta Falcons this week. The question then becomes: how do the Steelers divvy out snaps to their running backs this Sunday?
With Najee’s workload likely limited due to his missed practice time with an oblique injury, expect an uptick in touches for Warren. However, it probably won’t be a one-man show in the backfield.
Snell and Anthony McFarland are both coming off strong performances against Indianapolis, so it’s very likely we see a committee approach. However, if both Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren are activated this week, it probably means that McFarland will be the odd man out. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Snell get a handful of touches after a strong outing.
As the top running back on the depth chart behind Harris, Warren should see more touches than he has all year. Considering that the rookie has averaged 5.0 yards per carry and 8.6 yards per reception this year, per ESPN stats, it’s very possible that he sets some career milestones — particularly in rushing yards.
Prior to this point, Warren has yet to surpass 50 rushing yards in a game. Depending on how heavily they lean on him this Sunday, I would expect him to exceed this number for the first time this season.
This is going to be a big moment for Warren, and how he performs against the Falcons could dictate how big of a percentage of offensive snaps he sees moving forward.