During his rookie season, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Dri Archer only returned nine kickoffs and touched the football 17 times on offense. While nobody expected the Kent State product to win team MVP honors in 2014, his contributions to the team fell way short of expectations.
With one season now under his belt, Archer will hopefully start producing more in year number two. While he’s probably never going to be anything more than just a bit player on offense who hopefully can occasionally produce an explosive play, there’s still a chance that he can become a premier kick returner in the league just as he was in college.
While Archer is more than likely still one of the fastest players in the NFL, he apparently relied too much on his 4.26 speed during his rookie season as a kick returner.
“It was more about me running instead of reading (last year),” Archer said, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I was supposed to set stuff up, but I was just out there running. There is more to it that just running fast.”
In order to improve on his kick return efforts from last season, Archer is now reportedly working on slowing down and setting up his blocks better with special teams coach Danny Smith both before and after the team’s OTA practices.
Archer’s nine kickoff returns last season resulted in a 17.9 yard average and that was seven yards less a return than wide receiver Markus Wheaton provided for the team during his 20 opportunities after taking over the job midway through the season
While it’s yet to be seen whether or not Archer will be given a shot this season to supplant wide receiver Antonio Brown as the team’s punt returner, it would be fantastic if that’s the way things ultimately played out. For now, however, just having him become one of the top kick returners in the league would go a long way in helping the 2015 Steelers.
As for Archer contributing more on offense this upcoming season, he’s looking forward to getting that opportunity as well and as early as the first few weeks of the season being as starting running back Le’Veon Bell is expected to miss the first three games while serving his suspension. Whatever the team wants him to do, he sounds like he’s up to the challenge.
“If it is special teams, running back, wide receivers, however I can do to help the team,” Archer said. “I am more comfortable this year. Having been in the system for a year, you understand the terminology and what they ask for you.”