When the Pittsburgh Steelers first drafted running back Dri Archer, we knew he would be giving somebody fits.
Whether it was offensive coordinators trying to find snaps for him, defensive coordinators trying to find ways to defend him, or linebackers trying to find their jocks after covering him, one thing we knew he was going to deliver is a round of headaches.
Right now, nobody’s head is pounding harder than eighth-year veteran Steelers inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons, who has so far been tasked with covering him on seemingly every opportunity during drills.
We have been hearing reports for days now of the rookie speedster making the borderline Pro Bowl linebacker look foolish and flat-footed with his incomparable speed and elusiveness.
Dale Lolley wrote yesterday of one such incident, in which Archer “caught a ball in the flat, came to a complete stop to freeze Timmons and then burst inside, flying right by him”.
When it comes down to it, however, anybody can be a victim, as second-year linebacker Terence Garvin found out, and as Lolley described:
“Later in the drill, when they had two backs and two backers, Garvin went outside with Archer, yelling, ‘I got it, I got it’. When Archer caught the ball and stutter stepped, Garvin didn’t have it any longer. Archer burst down the sideline by himself, leaving Garvin to grasp at air as he yelled obscenities”.
Soon, the hope is, Archer will be tormenting linebackers wearing something other than the black and gold uniforms of the Steelers.
That is what the team was expecting out of 2012 fifth-round draft pick Chris Rainey, who lasted only one season before the Steelers parted ways.
Archer does appear to be on another level than Rainey ever was, but nothing can be more convincing than seeing him actually doing to another team what he has been doing to his own teammates in practice.
It’s not that difficult for short road burners to garner excited accolades for putting on a show during training camp. It’s a “football-like” environment, rather than football itself, as the Steelers’ head coach would say.
The goal for Saturday is to see New York Giants sprawled across the field, arms outstretched, with Archer already two steps beyond, the way the Steelers linebackers have looked.
If the rookie can make Jacquian Williams and Devon Kennard look as bad as a player the quality of Timmons has trying to cover him, then I think we can say we’re on our way to something to get excited about.