During his four years at Kent State, Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back Dri Archer returned 52 kickoffs for 1,436 yards and four touchdowns. During his first two preseason games with the Steelers, however, he hasn’t returned any.
During the preseason, one would think that teams would like to work on their kickoff coverage units but that hasn’t necessarily been the case in the Steelers first two preseason games and as result we’ve yet to see what Archer can do on returns with that speed of his.
The lone kickoff return that the Steelers have had thus far during the preseason belongs to backup wide receiver James Shaw, who decided to bring out a kick six yards deep into the end zone by Bills kicker Dan Carpenter midway through the third quarter of Saturday night’s game. That return ended at the Steelers own 21-yard-line.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has taken the opposite approach with kicker Shaun Suisham as he said Saturday night during his post game press conference that he’s told his kicker not to boot his kickoffs out of the end zone.
“Yeah we have to cover kicks. The only way you get to know some of these coverage guys is to put balls in play,” said Tomlin. “Shaun could put the ball throughout the back of the endzone like some of these people we’re playing but we want to see what our kickoff coverage teams are capable of because it’s going to get into the season. I rather know now than to know then.”
The Steelers will play the Philadelphia Eagles Thursday night on the road and in their two previous preseason games a total of six kickoffs have been returned for a total of 151 yards. Hopefully they decide to let Archer return a few in that game.
As far as punt returns go for Archer, he could use a little more work in that area as well. In the first two games he’s returned a total of two for four yards while fair catching another.