A quick analysis of the game tape from yesterday reveals that Dri Archer logged zero snaps on offense for the Pittsburgh Steelers yesterday in their home opener. In the Steelers’ second opener the second-year running back logged just three snaps, all of which came on the team’s meaningless final drive, down 14 with three minutes to play.
The front office just so happens to have to make a roster move by Tuesday, when running back Le’Veon Bell’s two-game suspension expires and he is able to return to the 53-man roster.
Archer was a third-round pick just a year ago, but it is looking increasingly likely—though not guaranteed—that he could be the one who loses his roster spot in order to make room for the All-Pro back.
For some perspective, rather than give him the opportunity to run the ball, the Steelers gave fullback Will Johnson the opportunity to carry the ball on four occasions during the season opener, with three of those carries coming at the goal line, and all of them in short-yardage scenarios.
Yesterday, with the Steelers needing somebody to take the handoff from the shadow of his own goal line to close out the game, they turned to Jordan Todman, who was signed a day after the initial 53-man roster was finalized. He dressed, but did not play on offense in the first game.
Yesterday, he technically logged four snaps, though three of them included the victory formation. But the one that really counted was impressive, scraping off of contact at the line of scrimmage to burst forth for 11 yards on a play that allowed the team to get to the aforementioned victory formation.
Meanwhile, fullback Roosevelt Nix has recorded a special teams tackle or assist in each of the first two games, in very limited opportunities to do so, and has also been active as a blocker near either goal line and in short-yardage situations. He was targeted on a pass on the second play of the last game, though the reception was negated by penalty.
With DeAngelo Williams, Bell, Todman, Johnson, and Nix, the Steelers already have five running back-like bodies on the roster. They also have five wide receiver-like bodies on the roster, and will get Martavis Bryant back from suspension in two more games.
And the team is making no effort to utilize Archer in the offense, which may be the nail in his coffin that gets him released. The second-year player maintains practice squad eligibility thanks to new rules that allow all players with two or fewer accrued seasons to be on a squad (with exceptions), but his sheer speed could very well entice a team enough to claim him.
His savior may be the Steelers’ off decision to carry seven defensive linemen, including two rookie late-round or undrafted defensive ends who do not dress, claiming undrafted rookie Caushaud Lyons off waivers. They don’t need seven defensive linemen any more than they need him.
But even this may not help, as even if he remains on the roster, it may be difficult to find him a helmet on game day, which makes him expendable. He spent time as a healthy scratch late last season, but may not be afforded the same courtesy again.