PITTSBURGH: Jaylen Warren plays football with a frenetic energy.
That’s bound to stay the same given the potential consequences.
During September’s game against the Browns, he was penalized for lowering his helmet while finishing off a run. In October, Warren received a hefty fine from the NFL for initiating contact with a much taller Rams defensive lineman, leaving him unsure of how to effectively block larger opponents.
“I can’t stand my ground and punch them; they are going to run me over,” Warren said earlier this season. “So I try to enforce my hitting. It’s getting to the point where it’s hurting me.”
Warren’s determination to deliver as much punishment as he takes has helped him rise through the ranks from rookie to a regular player in the NFL.
“I wouldn’t have made the team if I don’t play the way I play,” he said. “Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.”
Warren’s career milestone came when he was named a co-starter alongside Najee Harris and rushed for a career-high 101 yards and a touchdown in a 23-19 victory over Green Bay.
Though coach Mike Tomlin has referred to Harris as Pittsburgh’s “bell cow,” Warren’s consistent performance led Tomlin to name him a co-starter with Harris.
Warren’s ability to not dwell on his progress and focus on the present has helped him make significant strides.
“I put my best foot forward and whatever happens, happens,” Warren said.
Warren continuously utilizes his talent in a variety of roles to make the most impact on the field.
His success has made him the 1B to Harris’ 1A, with their stats being nearly identical.
Their success spotlights the ongoing debate about the value of a running back in today’s NFL, as Warren has matched the production of a first-round pick in less than two years.
“I motivate him, he motivates me and we just feed off each other and reciprocate each other’s energy,” Warren said.
Steelers will require both players to keep pace in the ultra-competitive AFC North as they face Cleveland on Sunday.
“They’re a good one-two punch,” center Mason Cole said. “We’re starting to see that kind of kick in here as the season goes on.”
Forced errors in critical situations have been successful for the team. The defense intercepted two passes in the final minutes against Green Bay, increasing the Steelers’ turnover ratio to plus-10, tied with Cincinnati for the league’s best.
The kick coverage units needs to perform better, despite gaining 166 yards against Tennessee and 205 against Green Bay.
Patrick Peterson played a pivotal role in the game, blocking an extra point and expertly tipping a pass that led to an interception.
Quarterback Kenny Pickett’s performance was below par, only managing 126 passing yards and no touchdowns. Improvements will be required going forward.
LB Kwon Alexander’s season is over due to a leg injury, although optimism surrounds the recovery of S Minkah Fitzpatrick and TE Pat Freiermuth from hamstring injuries.
Pittsburgh’s record in one-score games since the start of the 2021 season favors them, and they will face AFC North opponents Cincinnati, Cleveland and Baltimore in the final eight weeks.
Go for a season sweep of the Cleveland Browns on the road on Sunday.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl