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Steelers training camp: Glimpse of Dri Archer's speed, skill seen on first day at Latrobe

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For all the noise that was made when the Steelers went with Dri Archer as their third round choice in this past May's NFL Draft, his upside could silence those who balked at the move.

Steelers rookie Dri Archer collects a pass at the 1st day of camp in Latrobe on Saturday.
Steelers rookie Dri Archer collects a pass at the 1st day of camp in Latrobe on Saturday.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

LATROBE, Pa. - There is fast and then there is NFL fast.  Everybody has quicks in this league, even the 300 pound linemen can move, some with frightening speed for their size.

Then you have Dri Archer, Steelers third round pick.

His "fast" is not even normal NFL fast.  At 4.26 in the 40, Superman has to pay attention.

Steelers fans got that chance to see the speed for the 1st time up close and personal on Saturday from Latrobe as the team held its first official workouts at camp.  Archer was involved in a variety of ways, both as a back and out of the slot as a receiver.  He also saw a bit of special teams work.

But it was his time in the slot that drew the oooh's and awww's from fans and reporters as Archer made some nifty, even shifty moves and cutbacks in the 11 on 11 drills that gave a glimpse of what could come in the fall.

Now this was men in shorts on the first day mind you.  But still, it was fun to watch and according to Archer, he enjoyed it as well.

"It felt good,'  he said. "It's been a long time coming.  We've been waiting to come back out on the field with each other and it gives us another day to get better."

There is a lot that goes into the equation of Archer being a rookie that can contribute right away.  Much of that will do with how he picks up the playbook, something he seems to be handling so far.

"I like what we're doing,' Archer told me of his handle on Todd Haley's offense.  "The coaches know what they are doing and as long as we come out and execute and learn every day things will work out."

As for Haley, he also knows that men in shorts doesn't equate to much.  But still, the speed and skill Archer brings to his offense has potential.

"We don't want to get too excited or too non-excited about anybody at this time," Haley stated after practice. "All through the spring and continued today its clear he's a fast guy that's pretty sharp and he's paying attention, catching on to things and doing for the most part what he's supposed to be doing."

I don't like to put much stock into summer football.  It's there for a number of reasons, many of which have little to do with your starting 22.  Archer isn't in that mix.  What training camp is designed to do, what it really exists for is people like Archer who need to show the coaching staff exactly what he can do to help them improve on back-to-back 8-8 seasons.

Archer won't play a major role in this team's offense to start.  If he can end the season with 35-40 catches and carries, plus help in the return game, I'd consider it a big step in the right direction with a guy like him.

Running past a hulking 260 lb linebacker in shorts isn't quite the same as doing it in November at M&T Stadium when say Terrell Suggs is chasing you down.

Angry.

In pads.

With the intent to harm.

Yes, that is where we will find out if Archer can help this team.  When given resistance and disruption, can he fight off a linebacker 70 pounds heavier? Will his speed mean much if he's blown off the line of scrimmage two seconds into a play?

Time will tell that tale.  But for now, on one be-u-ti-ful July afternoon in God's country, Archer teased us just a bit of what could lay ahead regarding his role on the Steelers come fall.

"It's real exciting,' Archer added about his potential role.  "I'm here to help the team and whatever the coaches need from me, I'm going to step up in that role and perform.  Whatever they need of me to do. Special teams, on offense, I'm ready to fulfill that. "

John Phillips is a radio personality for 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh and a columnist for Behind The Steel Curtain. His articles will be posted twice weekly beginning with live reporting in Training Camp July 25. Check him out on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.