The Pittsburgh Steelers certainly seem intent on finding more ways to get rookie running back Dri Archer involved and contributing to the team’s success.
On Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, Archer carried the ball three times, received one pass, returned three kickoffs, and fielded one punt.
On offense, he produced a total of 24 yards. His reception gained zero yards, while he rushed for 24, including a 15-yard run, during the one occasion this season that he was actually able to utilize his explosive speed.
While that one run may have been a glimmer of hope that many have been waiting for, we’re certainly still a long way from getting the return on investment the team envisioned when they drafted him in the third round.
More worrying was his performance as a returner, which presumably is supposed to be his primary contribution to the team.
While the Browns defense did cover kicks well, it wasn’t enough to justify the returns. On the opening kickoff of the game, Archer returned the kick from six yards deep in the end zone. He was tackled on the 14-yard line when the defender Vince Williams was attempting to impede was able to slip free.
After the Browns got on the scoreboard for the first time a few minutes into the second quarter, Archer took the kick out of the end zone once again from six yards in. This time, he made it to the 16-yard line before he was tackled when two blockers latched on to the same defender, letting the other come in free.
His third return was taken from three yards deep into the end zone. This time, he at least got close to the 20-yard line, taken down at the 19-yard line.
The point is, Archer’s efforts in the return game contributed to the Steelers being consistently behind when it comes to starting field position.
He has yet to contribute either consistently or explosively, and is doing little to justify retaining getting a helmet on game day.
Certainly, if he continues to make poor decisions as a kick returner and sacrifices field position time and again, the team will be forced to consider letting him take a seat on the sidelines on game day.
After playing 15 snaps in the season opener, Archer missed the next two games with an injury. Since returning, he has played a total of 13 snaps on offense over the last three games, including four snaps on Sunday.
That’s not exactly an indispensable performance that the Steelers can’t afford to sit down, at least for a while.
Quite frankly, even though the team now has six safeties on the roster after calling up Ross Ventrone from the practice squad, their special teams would be better off playing all of them than continuing to have Archer on kicks, if the current results are indicative of what to expect.