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Dri Archer's versatility helps Steelers offense as well as defense

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Steelers rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier pointed out the value of practicing against fellow rookie Dri Archer.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The value of Steelers' third round pick Dri Archer extends beyond simple xs and os on a chalkboard. While the challenge the Steelers have in 2014 is finding the best way to get Archer the ball in advantageous situations, the options they have to do just that are plentiful.

They even extend to the defensive side of the ball. Not that Archer will line up at cornerback or safety, but he's going to help those players prepare for game day.

"It really helps a lot," Shazier told August Fagerstrom of the Akron Beacon Journal. "He really does everything. He can catch, he can run, he even goes through the tackles sometimes. Having him be able to do all that in practice really helps us break down angles, fundamentals and trust ourselves and what we have to do.

"When you’re chasing him and really understanding the way he cuts, you’re not going to see anybody faster than him, so it helps you be able to read and tackle any other guy."

Have no fear, Archer wasn't brought in to be a practice player only. Speed simply adds value to any player in doing anything. Even if his rookie season production is something closer to three carries, four targets and two punt returns, that's nine opportunities for Archer to find a crease and get moving in a straight line.

As Shazier wisely points out, not everyone has that kind of speed, and odds are good opposing defenses and special teams don't practice against it. One burst through a hole could be all Archer needs.

No one's catching him in a footrace, and that's exactly the kind of scenario he could create if he breaks free.