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Dri Archer learning from receivers and running backs

It makes perfect sense he's learning from the Steelers' dual-role offensive player, Le'Veon Bell. He's taken Archer under his wing, becoming something of the present expert among running backs on the playbook.

Joe Sargent

Catch all of Dale Grdnic's live reports from the Steelers' OTAs practices here on Behind The Steel Curtain

PITTSBURGH -- While veteran cornerback Ike Taylor had more of a presence with his return to practice Tuesday after missing the opening week of OTAs, rookie running back Dri Archer also was there for the first time.

Archer, the Pittsburgh Steelers third-round pick this year from Kent State, attended the club's rookie mini-camp but missed last week to attend an NFLPA rookie premiere event in California.

"I had to go there the beginning of last week,'' Archer said. "I was sick, but I did go. It was something I had to do. I would have much rather been here on the football field learning the playbook, but it was something I had to do.

"I guess rookies get selected to it, but you have to attend. It's something you can't skip. I guess it's in the rules or something. I don't know, but I wasn't allowed to miss it. (And) I took my playbook. I still looked at plays and still studied.''

Archer believed he was a bit behind his teammates after missing three OTA practices, but a new teammate already has taken him under his wing.

"We're all just out here helping each other, (but) Le'Veon Bell has definitely been helping me a lot through this process,'' Archer said. "He's like a big brother. He's only in his second year, but he has a lot under his belt.

"We all have a new coach and are learning the playbook a little more, but he's further along into the playbook. So he's just showing me the ropes.''

Bell certainly appreciated the help he got last season, especially when he was injured in the preseason and had to miss three regular-season games. LeGarrette Blount is in his fifth NFL season, but his first with the Steelers. So, Bell is more knowledgeable than any back about the club's playbook.

"I don't know about that, but we're all working hard out here just trying to get better,'' Bell said. "Me, Blount, Archer and all the guys, we've got a new coach leading our meetings (John Saxon). So, we're all learning together.''

Saxon had a specific message for all the running backs, and he basically discussed working in concert with the offensive line.

Saxon told the group: "Look, we're going to do the best things in the running game for the five guys that are blocking up front. We have to be accountable in terms of where we put the football. They're going to know where to put the football, because we have to help those five guys up front.''

Wideouts coach Richard Mann said after the Steelers drafted Archer that he could line up anywhere in the backfield or along the offensive line this season. Archer briefly discussed the club's offense.

"We've got a lot of bright faces,'' Archer said. "It's going to be something that we're going to improve on a lot this season. We have a lot of good speed and good talent, so it's going to be something special.

"I'm sure they know what I'm going to do, but I'm just here right now (at practice). It's the beginning still. I'm just learning the playbook, and I'm just doing what I'm asked.''

And after he gets a few more under his belt, Archer's presence should become much more evident.