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Kevin Colbert Discusses Need For Dri Archer To Be Able To Run Out Of Base Formations

I’m as excited about seeing Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back Dri Archer during the preseason as the rest of you, but that excitement will be a little bit tempered until I see him work as a true running back in a few of the exhibition games. If he can show that he can function, first, as a ball carrier at the NFL level, then his value really increases, in my opinion.

So why do I feel this way? I blame former Steelers running back Chris Rainey. Sure, not only is Archer a higher pedigree guy than Rainey, he also appears to have a higher football IQ than the former fifth-round draft pick. Oh, and he’s faster. Still, we all saw how Rainey struggled to get on the field as a rookie and that likely was because they didn’t have confidence in him as a true ball carrier. As a result, when he was inserted into games, he might as well have had a red flashing light on top of his helmet.

During a Friday night interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert addressed some of my concerns as it relates to Archer and him functioning as a true running back.

“Dri’s got unique speed and he’s running a lot just from a base formation because they want to give him some looks as a running back,” said Colbert. “Because he just can’t be a little change up specialty guy, because people will obviously know if Dri Archer’s in the game, there’s a good chance he’s doing something different.”

During the preseason, I could care less how many times Archer lines up in the slot or is sent out of the backfield on a wheel route. I want to see him carry the football. Outside zone, inside zone, power pikes – you get the drift. I know that he can likely handle the rest, but if he can’t run the football out of base looks, the other facets of his game won’t be as effective and I think that’s exactly what Colbert is saying as well.

As far as Archer’s return ability, I feel real good about that. Luckily, Colbert addressed that portion of his game Friday night as well.

“He needs to continue to grow as a returner,” said Colbert. “He’s only practiced punts in the past – punt returns. If he can master that, he can be a special return guy, because he’s an accomplished kick returner.”

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