The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t given up on second-year running back Dri Archer, according to offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writer Mark Kaboly wrote that Haley spoke yesterday at a fan forum, addressing a number of topics, with Archer’s role in the future being among them.
Archer wasn’t exactly the spark plug during his rookie season that Haley and the Steelers brain trust envisioned when they drafted him in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft. With 4.2 speed and experience as both a running back and a wide receiver, as well as a kick returner, they believed that he could have an impact immediately.
Instead, he managed just 10 carries for 40 yards, adding seven receptions for another 23 yards, totaling 63 yards on 17 touches—certainly not the dynamic per-play explosiveness that the Steelers were hoping to get back in May of 2014.
The rookie was also given the opportunity to be the team’s kick returner, but after five games of doing so and failing to reach the 20-yard line, he was pulled from that position and ultimately replaced by Markus Wheaton.
Despite his own blazing speed, it did appear as though the pace of the game at the professional level at times took Archer by surprise. But this was not completely unexpected, according to his offensive coordinator. “When you get guys [who’ve come from a mid-major conference], sometimes the transition time is a little longer than we all would like, himself included”.
Indeed, Archer did express the same sentiment after the season was over, and that he would have to catch up to the speed of the game himself.
Haley did acknowledge the difficulty of actually getting Archer his five to six snaps per game, which he attributed to the fact that Le’Veon Bell is the type of talent that you never want to take off the field. He expressed believe in the idea that you keep your 11 best players on the field as often as possible, and we saw him follow that belief with Bell late in the season prior to his injury.
Haley went on to stress the importance of having a role for Archer once he is on the field, which didn’t always seem to be the case last season, and was, I believe, one contributing factor in terms of him underperforming as a rookie.
He believes, however, that with a full season and another training camp under his belt, and more time in an NFL weight room, Archer can come in this season and be a positive contributor to the Steelers’ success due to his “outstanding characteristic of speed”.
Haley concluded by stressing patience when it comes to getting the diminutive back on the field and expecting production. He told the fans that patience is key in letting him continue to develop while adding that they will “definitely have a plan to get him touches throughout the season” because any one of those plays “has the chance to take it to the house”.