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Steelers eager to see rookie RB/WR Archer's preseason debut

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In the beginning

Notable Steelers rookie performers in first preseason game under Mike Tomlin:

2013: Landry Jones: 4 for 5, 58 yards

2012: Chris Rainey: 2 catches, 65 yards, TD

2010: Antonio Brown: 3 catches, 84 yards, TD

2009: Isaac Redman: 10 rushes, 32 yards, 2 TDs

2008: Rashard Mendenhall: 7 rushes, 34 yards

2007: Gary Russell: 8 rushes, 41 yards

Friday, Aug. 8, 2014, 9:37 p.m.

After the first series, it's difficult to get a starter to pay attention to what's going on during a first preseason game.

That won't be the case Saturday when the Steelers travel to the Meadowlands to take on the New York Giants in the preseason opener. Everyone is eager to see what rookie third-round pick Dri Archer can do.

“I will take notice during the kickoff, and as soon as Dri is in the game, I am going to take notice,” cornerback Ike Taylor said. “I am sure I am getting up to get a better look.”

Taylor won't be the only one.

“I am real eager to see what he can do,” running back Le'Veon Bell said. “He is one of the most explosive players that I've ever seen. When he gets the ball in his hands, you have to look out for him. You have to know where he is at on the field at all times. If anybody is going to do something special, it might be him.”

It might not take long, either.

Archer will return kickoffs against the Giants, meaning he could have his hands on the ball immediately.

If not, the Steelers will find ways to get Archer the ball, whether that means lining him up as a running back or placing him in the slot or outside as a receiver.

When the Steelers drafted Archer in May, they envisioned using him in myriad ways. They have done just that through two weeks of training camp.

It has been common for the 5-foot-8, 173-pounder Archer line up as a tailback and run off-tackle, in the backfield and motion to the slot or as a receiver to the outside.

“Dri is going to fit in real good with us,” Taylor said. “He is going to be a matchup problem for a lot of teams. He just has it. Dri just has it. Anytime he touches the ball or anytime you know he's getting the ball, you kind of stand up and pay attention.”

Archer has shown flashes in training camp, but more often than not it's come against second- and third-team defenses. That's likely the groups Archer will face Saturday.

With his 4.2-second speed in the 40-yard dash, he doesn't need much room to break a big play.

“I don't think anybody can keep up with him. That's a different kind of speed there,” linebacker Lawrence Timmons said. “That's matchup problems right there with (defensive backs) and linebackers. That guy there gets in the open field and he's a problem. Every time he has the ball in his hands, he can go yard.”

That means Archer has a chance to provide the first “splash” play, to steal a phrase from coach Mike Tomlin, of the Steelers preseason.

“I would put him at No. 1,” Taylor said about who has the best chance of making a big play.

“I hope so,” Archer said. “I am going to let it come. If it happens, it happens.”

Being on the job for only a short time, Archer said he's just worried about doing his job.

“I just want to go out there and show the coaches that they can have trust in me, (that I) know my assignments, know what to do and go out there and execute,” Archer said. “They have trust but never enough until you show it in the game.

“You don't want to get overly excited where you lose your composure. I am trying to remain calm. I am excited, but I will be more excited once I step on the field.”

Maybe not as excited as some of his teammates.

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.




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