While we got just a glimpse of what we can hope to expect from Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back Dri Archer the other night on offense, the New York Giants were able to nearly completely neutralize him on special teams.
Which is somewhat surprising, given that this is the preseason. Like the Steelers, the Giants have a veteran kicker that they are content with, so the decision to send every kickoff out of bounds is a bit peculiar.
The Steelers, for example, appeared to leave a kick or two short in order to get a better look at their coverage unit.
Not the Giants. To be fair, they were alternating between veteran Josh Brown and challenger Brandon McManus on kickoff duty.
McManus sent his first kickoff through the back of the end zone, as did Brown. McManus’ second kickoff was fielded by Archer about eight yards deep, drifting to the right sideline, without a return.
Following halftime, the Steelers replaced Archer as the return man with Jordan Hall, and he didn’t have an opportunity to return either of the Giants’ two kickoffs of the second half, either.
Archer had little success returning punts, either. His first opportunity resulted in a fair catch. On his second and third occasions, he tried to wriggle out of tight spaces against the Giants’ strong coverage units, but only mustered four yards combined between the two returns.
On offense, Archer was only on the field for five plays, but those five plays produced four touches for a total of 59 yards. The bulk of that yards came on the 46-yard reception early in the game on Ben Roethlisberger’s sole possession, of course, which was the longest play of the night for the Steelers.
With many wondering whether the minute back would have issues running between the tackles as a traditional running back, the coaches gave him two such carries to close out the first half with not enough time on the clock to do anything else.
Admittedly, both carries were on draws, but Archer did display some maneuverability on closed spaces, and picked up nine yards in the process. This doesn’t fully answer the implied question, however, without some more straightforward rushing opportunities.
Of course, the likelihood is that Archer will have most of his impact as a rookie on special teams, but we didn’t get much of a chance to see that in the preseason opener.