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Buccaneers vs. Steelers: Todd Haley keeping Dri Archer card close to vest

All signs point to Archer's return to the field after injury kept him out of the last two games. His explosive speed and quickness mesh well with how the Steelers are running their offense this year.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers activated rookie running back Dri Archer for the team's season-opening game against the Cleveland Browns. He got in 15 plays, and the Steelers haven't seen him on the field since.

Archer was injured after gaining four yards on a carry and returning two kicks for 29 yards, a modest start to the rookie's career. Steelers offensive coordinator suggested, in an interview with Tribune Review's Alan Robinson, it's not a sure thing he'll get a helmet Sunday when the Steelers host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but it would seem likely he's among their 45-man dress list for the game.

"If he has a helmet (Sunday), then we will definitely find something for him to do," Haley said.

He likely doesn't mean waving a towel on the sideline. Archer played more in that opening game than any other Steelers rookie except Ryan Shazier, who is now taking his turn on the inactive list. Even considering how impressive the Steelers' running game was against Carolina, and how strong it's been all season, adding another weapon to that mix would definitely be an advantage.

Archer's skill set fits in well with how the Steelers are attacking on offense this year. He's quick and shifty, resembling wide receiver Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell, which would add another dimension to the Steelers' short-range passing game. Haley has primarily been utilizing Bell and Brown, for obvious reasons, but the strategy is based on using those around them to set up his primary weapons.

Fake and delay screens away from Bell and Brown would seem advantageous for a team that looks to spread the ball around. The fact Archer had a carry against the Browns is likely more beneficial now than it was on the four-yard gain, because the Buccaneers will have to prepare for him possibly carrying the ball when he's lined up in the backfield. From that set, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has carte blanche to direct Archer elsewhere and attack the personnel that's on the field, whether it's with a carry or a target in the passing game.

Archer boosts the potential of this offense by giving it another opportunity for a mismatch. With a diverse group of playmakers already in place, Archer's role figures to be an important one in this game.

Even if Haley is playing possum over whether he'll dress.

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