On Sunday, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Warren was announced with the starters prior to his team’s 23-19 win over the Green Bay Packers.
On Tuesday, Warren, who has been the backup to Najee Harris this season, revealed that head coach Mike Tomlin notified him in the week’s lead-in to the game (h/t ESPN’s Brooke Pryor and Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).
Jaylen Warren was announced as a starter for the first time Sunday. He said Tomlin told him the night before.
"He did kind of mention the night before that whatever had transpired throughout the team, he was saying that he was going to announce me and that I'm deserving of it." https://t.co/DSTs85dRax
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) November 13, 2023
Steelers running back Jaylen Warren, fresh off his first starting lineup announcement and first 100-yard game in the NFL, explains that his surfboard introduction was a nod to his Polynesian heritage. Mike Tomlin told him Friday night he’d get to run out of the tunnel. https://t.co/R44b4woGRY pic.twitter.com/At73QjOqqR
— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) November 13, 2023
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked about it Tuesday and gave this response.
Tomlin on Jaylen Warren being announced as a starter:
"You guys ask me about him every week. You guys see the consistency" from Warren.
Says it was an acknowledgment of Warren's preparedness and professionalism and says sometimes that's as simple as announcing a player at a…
— Amanda Godsey (@AmandaFGodsey) November 14, 2023
Mike Tomlin praises Jaylen Warren, and said he simply 'deserved' to be introduced with the starters on Sunday.
He says the equal snap count between Najee Harris and Warren was just 'where they were' against the Packers.
— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) November 14, 2023
The Steelers’ official depth chart still lists Harris over Warren, although they’ve been splitting touches all season.
On Sunday, Warren amassed 15 carries for 101 rushing yards and a touchdown in addition to two receptions for nine yards. Harris compiled 16 carries for 82 rushing yards and a score alongside three receptions for 14 yards. Each running back played 33 snaps.
Warren has been the Steelers’ most efficient and explosive offensive running back this season, averaging 5.1 yards per carry (71/364/2) alongside 31 receptions for 218 yards. He is tied with wide receiver George Pickens for most yards from scrimmage with 582 (on 102 touches for 5.7 yards per touch).
Harris has not fared as well as Warren, although he’s still managed to do enough in his own right. The third-year pro has rushed for 4.0 yards per carry (116/464/3) alongside 18 catches for 115 yards.
Harris entered the season as the clear RB1, but at this juncture, it’s clear that Warren is deserving of as many if not more touches. He’s simply on fire over his last two games after amassing 113 total yards on 14 touches in a 20-16 win over the Tennessee Titans the week before.
Warren, Harris and the 6-3 Steelers will now begin a huge two-game AFC North road trip beginning Sunday when they take on the Cleveland Browns. A date with the Cincinnati Bengals then looms on Nov. 26.