- Scott Brown, ESPN Pittsburgh Steelers reporter
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PITTSBURGH – Dri Archer’s world-class speed has yet to translate into any significant kickoff returns, and Pittsburgh Steelers special teams coordinator Danny Smith said the rookie has to learn to rely on more than just his greatest attribute.
“There are a lot of fast guys working at McDonald’s that can’t play this game,” Smith said. “Right now he thinks it’s about speed and as you know, it isn’t.”
That has become pretty apparent with Archer averaging just 17.9 yards on nine kickoff returns, the worst of any NFL player with at least nine kickoff returns.
But Smith said he is not frustrated with Archer as much as he is realistic with the rookie. And, Smith added, it is way too early to get down on the third-round pick, considering he has played all of five NFL games.
“You press as a mature, experienced coach,” said Smith, who is in his 20th season coaching in the NFL. “Now you’re talking about a young kid that’s played [five] games -- hell yeah, he presses. You talk to him about not [pressing], but I think it’s pretty natural. We’ve got to fight through it together.”
The Steelers need more out of their kickoff returns and they were confident that the explosive Archer would turn in game-breaking plays on special teams when they drafted the former Kent State star.
Archer is the fastest player on the team – he ran the 40-yard dash in a blazing 4.26 seconds at the NFL scouting combine last February – and Smith said the 5-foot-8, 173-pound Archer just needs to be more patient and let the game come to him.
“As soon as that kid makes a big play, we’ll all be hopping on the bandwagon and we’ll all be celebrating, ‘Hey, this is what we thought he was,’ ” Smith said. “It will come. It really will. I’ve seen it too many times because of his work habits and because of his athleticism and because of his want-to. I think he’s going to be fine, and the sooner, the better.”
Dri Archer's world-class speed has yet to translate into any significant kickoff returns.