After parting ways with running back LeGarrette Blount last week, the Pittsburgh Steelers are now left with two young and very inexperienced running backs in rookies Dri Archer and Josh Harris to back up starter Le’Veon Bell moving forward. During his Tuesday press conference, however, head coach Mike Tomlin made it clear that he will not hesitate to use either young back moving forward.
“No, I’m not reluctant at all,” said Tomlin. “The senior ball carrier in group, in Le’Veon, is younger than all of them. We’ve got a young position group, but you look around football, young backs impact games in a significant way and in a positive way week in and week out all over the National Football League.
“Just because Dri has a limited amount of carries in his career and Josh has none, doesn’t mean that they cant be significant contributors to our efforts not only this week, but moving forward. And I know both guys work with that in mind and I don’t think that either guy is lacking confidence.”
Tomlin, however, wouldn’t say specifically how many carries he would like to get Archer this week when asked about his potential usage in the upcoming game against the New Orleans Saints.
“We’ll see how the game unfolds. Of course that has a lot to do with game circumstance and how it is that we choose to attack them, and how Le’Veon and others are doing,” said Tomlin. “Dri’s a hard-working young guy and has done a nice job. Obviously, there could be more opportunities there for him, I’m sure that he’d be excited about that. He’s been one of those guys that’s been chomping at the bit to be a positive contributor to our efforts.”
While Archer at least has carried the football eight times already this season, Harris has yet to play in an NFL game. On Tuesday, Tomlin talked about the progress the undrafted free agent out of Wake Forest has made prior to him being promoted to the 53 man roster following Blount being waived.
“Since he’s been here, he’s been a guy on a steady incline,” said Tomlin of Harris. “He’s improved day to day. He’s a big-time competitor. He’s a finisher. It’s a tough thing to be a card offensive running back from time to time, particularly going against a defense that’s upset on a Wednesday, and we’ve had a few of those types of Wednesdays because of at times our inability to stop people.
“He always embraces it, always brings his hardhat and is a big-time competitor and has done some nice things. We look forward to watching him maybe do it in a stadium.”
The only thing we know right now heading into Sunday’s game against the Saints is that both Archer and Harris will be available if needed. Even if both do see the field against the Saints, it’s hard to imagine either of them getting more than just a couple of touches each, as Bell should be able to handle most of the work.
If the Steelers are smart, they will run Bell early and often against the Saints, who have had problems stopping the run as of late. If that indeed winds up being the case, Bell is sure to need a play or two off at some point.