NFL running backs tracker: Is Najee Harris the new face of the Steelers franchise

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris runs the ball against the Cleveland Browns.
Tyler Dragon
USA TODAY Sports+

Introducing the running backs tracker!

Interested to know the best running back achievements each week? Want insight into why your favorite RB underperformed This is your place. USA TODAY Sports+ NFL Insider Tyler Dragon will provide a weekly breakdown of the running back position.

Week 17

Highlights

New face of the franchise in Pittsburgh?

Steelers running back Najee Harris put an exclamation point on Ben Roethlisberger’s final home game in Pittsburgh.

If the Steelers are searching for a new face of the franchise as Roethlisberger exits, they need to look no further. Harris was the Steelers’ best player on offense in 2021 and he fits the mold as a franchise cornerstone piece.

The rookie running back rushed for 188 yards and one touchdown. His 37-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter put the game against the Cleveland Browns on ice.

Harris passed Franco Harris for the most rushing yards by a rookie in franchise history.

Penny drops change all over Lions

Seattle Seahawks Rashaad Penny was running roughshod against the Detroit Lions. Penny compiled a career-high 170 rushing yards and had two rushing touchdowns in a 51-29 blowout win versus Detroit.

Lowlights

After pulling off a stunner in Week 16, Rex Burkhead and the Houston Texans came back to reality in a 23-7 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

Burkhead had a modest 47 yards on 16 carries. He averaged 2.9 yards a carry.

The Texans running back had a lifetime-best 149 rushing yards in a win against the Los Angeles Chargers last week.

2021 rushing leaders 

1. Indianapolis Colts RB Jonathan Taylor -- 1,734 rushing yards

2. Cincinnati Bengals RB Joe Mixon -- 1,205 rushing yards 

3. Cleveland Browns RB Nick Chubb -- 1,201 rushing yards

4. Pittsburgh Steelers RB Najee Harris -- 1,172 rushing yards

5. Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook -- 1,080 rushing yards

Follow USA TODAY Sports+ NFL Insider Tyler Dragon on Twitter @TheTylerDragon.