According to Post Gazette reporter Ed Bouchette, rookie Dri Archer was sent home Steelers' practice Tuesday due to an illness, but was at an NFLPA event in Los Angeles.
Rookie Dri Archer, the team’s third-round draft pick, missed both practices this week. He was sent home on Tuesday because he was sick, but then turned up for an NFL Players Association Rookie Premier event that began Wednesday in Los Angeles.
OTAs are, by definition, voluntary, and Archer participated fully in the team's rookie minicamp the previous weekend, which is mandatory. In that regard, he's not "skipping" anything. The event he attended is, according to the NFLPA, for selected rookies to learn the business of football.
We're backing off the initial stance upon receiving further clarification of the event. While it does seem to be an oddly timed event, considering it would require players to miss practice they may otherwise attend (which didn't appear to be the situation in Archer's case), Archer's choice to attend doesn't suggest anything other than, pun intended, a business decision.
NFLPA Assistant Executive Director of External Affairs George Attallah responded via Twitter to a question regarding the timing of the event:
@NealCoolong negotiated that way in the CBA. Connected to the timing of the NFL Draft.— George Atallah (@GeorgeAtallah) May 29, 2014
There are only so many reps to go around on the field, and early practices with teammates and the bonding that comes with it are important as well. That goes for veterans as well as rookies and in the end, the hope is they can know everything they'll need to know in an effort to maximize their effectiveness come training camp.