Coming Off Of Impressive Rookie Season, Jaylen Warren Isn’t Satisfied: ‘Still Trying To Prove Myself’
Jaylen Warren was quite the story in 2022 for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
An undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma State who entered training camp as the sixth running back on the depth chart, Warren impressed at St. Vincent College in Latrobe day after day. That carried over into the preseason, earning him the No. 2 job behind running back Najee Harris entering the 2022 season.
Then, throughout his rookie season Warren made big plays in big spots and really looked the part for the Steelers, pairing nicely with Harris to form a formidable one-two punch.
Despite the strong first season, Warren isn’t resting on his laurels or what he showed as a rookie. Entering Year 2, he’s still trying to prove himself, and that starts in OTAs.
“I’m still trying to prove myself,” Warren said to reporters Tuesday inside the locker room of the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, according to video via Steelers.com. “Personally, I feel like I haven’t done anything yet. I don’t like to let the talk get to me. I’ve still got goals; my main goal is to help the team win a Super Bowl.
“I’m still going to play my role, do what the team asks me to do. I’m going to do whatever it takes to help the team win.”
Never satisfied and still carrying a chip on his shoulder, it’s the same mentality Warren took into his opportunity with the Steelers last season as an undrafted free agent.
That mentality, along with a relentless motor and punishing style of play, helped him carve out a clear-cut role with the Steelers in 2022.
Warren often found himself on the field in passing situations when he could catch the ball out of the backfield in large part due to his work in pass protection. Warren was rather good in that area of the game, providing some serious toughness and physicality in front of quarterbacks Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett.
At times last season, Warren was the spark plug the Steelers offense needed, which enabled him to really take over as the No. 2 behind Harris, working his way into the third-down back role starting in Week 5.
Warren’s rookie season was one that the Steelers desperately needed, solving a long-term issue in identifying a No. 2 running back. Warren’s burst onto the scene forced head coach Mike Tomlin to move away from his old-school “workhorse back” nature of taking a 220+ pounder and running him into the ground, like he’d done in the past with Le’Veon Bell, James Conner, and Harris.
Warren’s emergence helped keep Harris fresh and healthy and allowed him to run like a first-round pick down the stretch as Pittsburgh leaned on, and won with, its running game in the second half of the season.
Coming off of a strong rookie season that very clearly has him on the map not only in Pittsburgh but across the league, the onus is now on Warren. He has to take that next step as a runner and receiver while still carrying on that dominance in pass protection and bringing serious physicality to the position overall.