Kevin Colbert Discusses Need For Dri Archer To Be Able To Run Out Of Base Formations

I’m as excited about seeing Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back Dri Archer during the preseason as the rest of you, but that excitement will be a little bit tempered until I see him work as a true running back in a few of the exhibition games. If he can show that he can function, first, as a ball carrier at the NFL level, then his value really increases, in my opinion.

So why do I feel this way? I blame former Steelers running back Chris Rainey. Sure, not only is Archer a higher pedigree guy than Rainey, he also appears to have a higher football IQ than the former fifth-round draft pick. Oh, and he’s faster. Still, we all saw how Rainey struggled to get on the field as a rookie and that likely was because they didn’t have confidence in him as a true ball carrier. As a result, when he was inserted into games, he might as well have had a red flashing light on top of his helmet.

During a Friday night interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert addressed some of my concerns as it relates to Archer and him functioning as a true running back.

“Dri’s got unique speed and he’s running a lot just from a base formation because they want to give him some looks as a running back,” said Colbert. “Because he just can’t be a little change up specialty guy, because people will obviously know if Dri Archer’s in the game, there’s a good chance he’s doing something different.”

During the preseason, I could care less how many times Archer lines up in the slot or is sent out of the backfield on a wheel route. I want to see him carry the football. Outside zone, inside zone, power pikes – you get the drift. I know that he can likely handle the rest, but if he can’t run the football out of base looks, the other facets of his game won’t be as effective and I think that’s exactly what Colbert is saying as well.

As far as Archer’s return ability, I feel real good about that. Luckily, Colbert addressed that portion of his game Friday night as well.

“He needs to continue to grow as a returner,” said Colbert. “He’s only practiced punts in the past – punt returns. If he can master that, he can be a special return guy, because he’s an accomplished kick returner.”

  • Jason White

    When I read the part about Chris Rainey I literally pictured him in the backfield with a flashing red light on his helmet during a night game and almost spit out my Pepsi. Now I imagine him with a siren as well, especially one of those sirens you hear on police cars in London.

  • pittsburghjoe

    You got that right, when Rainey was on the field, everyone knew they would try to dump the ball off in space. I hope this guy is different. I think he is, but lets just wait and see. I cant wait to see him play.

  • steeltown

    I am reserving judgment on this kid. Time will tell, he could be a stud. I am however excited about him as a return man.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    Don’t think running out of base formations will be a problem for Dri Archer however; can he run it successfully? That’s the bigger question.

  • joed32

    I remember Rainey having about an 8 yard run up the middle for a touchdown. I think a more limiting thing with the small guys in pass protection. I can’t picture Archer stoning an LB or DE.

  • charles

    Very good point with the flashing light metaphor. While I think that you are right, he can be an effective decoy. If Ben can get him the ball early on a swing pass and he can flash maybe a long td it would set the tone for the all Ds to always keep someone on him. One thing that Ben did with Wallace was to go long early and let the D know that that was always there. Wallace, of course, had no discipline so the effect was not as good as it could have been.

  • Fore_Cite

    if hes going to run out of base looks won’t he need to be able to pass block too?

  • Brendon Glad

    Tremendously astute analysis, Dave Bryan…as per always. I am so excited to see Dri Archer in an actual game, that I have to go back to Ben Roethlisberger to find a guy I had more anticipation to see in an actual Steelers NFL game. But the Chris Rainey thing, (where every team knew an exotic play was coming when he entered, cuz he couldn’t handle anything else)…and even Richard mann’s words of warning about “the NFL is a big-man’s game”, make me try as hard as I can to keep my expectations at a minimum. But dang can that guy fly with the ball in his hands. I’m hoping for something similar to Darren Sproles, and fearing Chris Rainey, And that’s a really wide-range of possibilities. So the intrigue is QUITE HIGH in Brendon Glad-ville.