Steelers 2nd-year back Dri Archer looking for better season
LATROBE, Pa. (AP) Dri Archer's rookie season was erratic.
The Pittsburgh Steelers dual threat at running back and wide receiver is hoping for more success - and running room - this season.
''I'm just ready to get to work and ready to have a better year,'' Archer said. ''Having a year under your belt and going through everything, you're more comfortable. Now that I'm in Year 2, I know what to expect.''
That's good news for the Steelers, who hope to add Archer's big-play potential to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's already-loaded attack that ranked second in the league last year.
Archer was a third-round pick from Kent State in 2014, highly regarded for his speed and 40-yard dash time of 4.26, the second-fastest ever recorded.
''That's what they got me for, to use my speed,'' Archer said. ''Like coach said, when you have something good, display it all the time.''
Archer saw action in 12 games and the team's playoff loss to Baltimore, but was never able to gain traction, finishing with just 40 yards on 10 carries rushing and 10 receptions for 38 yards.
Archer said it's not his job to decide if this is a make-or-break season.
''I'm not as nervous as I was last year,'' Archer said. ''Now, I'm more prepared and I know what to expect, I know how to take care of myself and my body and I know what to look forward to.''
It also could be a breakout season.
The team is looking to find Archer touches to add another dynamic weapon to one of the most prolific offenses in the league. He said he doesn't care where he plays, whether it's in the backfield or in the slot as a pass catcher.
''It doesn't matter to me, as long as I have the ball in my hands,'' Archer said.
One plan is to use Archer as a kickoff return specialist.
''That's the plan,'' Archer said. ''I like that. I enjoy returning kicks.''
It showed in college. Archer scored four touchdowns and his kickoff return average of 28.16 yards ranks fourth in Mid-American Conference history. Archer returned some for the Steelers last year, taking back nine kicks for 161 yards, an average of 17.9 per try.
He says the return game is different in the NFL.
''I wasn't setting up my blocks properly and I wasn't reading and hitting the right holes,'' Archer said. ''It's something you have to work on, and that's what I worked on this offseason.''
Steelers' All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell, who finished second in the league in rushing and all-purpose running and receiving yards last year, can already see a difference.
''Dri is getting more comfortable,'' Bell said. ''You can tell that when he's out there, he's not really thinking, he's just kind of playing.
''They're using him a lot more in different situations and different positions. He's going to be exciting for us.''
Throwing Archer into a skilled mix that includes Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown - a fellow All-Pro - in addition to emerging wide outs Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton can only benefit the Steelers, who are looking for even more offense after a record-breaking season.
''He can be a huge weapon because a guy with that kind of speed ... you can't coach that,'' Bell said. ''You have to find ways to get him on the field and get him the ball.
''Even when he doesn't have the ball he can be a great decoy because other teams are going to respect the fact that he has that speed and can take it to the house at any point.''
That would be just fine by Archer.
''Any way I can possibly get onto the field, any way I'm able to help, I'm willing to do it,'' Archer said.