Martavis Bryant Suspension = Dri Archer’s Opportunity

The Martavis Bryant’s suspension has left the Pittsburgh Steelers reeling. Everyone knows that. Before Martavis Bryant scored his first touchdown vs. the Houston Texans, a 35 yard bomb from Ben Roethlisberger, the 2014 Pittsburgh Steelers were 3-3.

  • The Steelers closed out the season 8-2.

OK. There are a lot of players besides Bryant to deserve credit for that. Le’Veon Bell elevated himself to elite back status during that time. Antonio Brown did what he does. The offensive line improved. And so Dick LeBeau coaxed some much needed improvement out of the Steelers defense to close his tenure as Steelers defensive coordinator.

  • But Bryant showed game-changing, big play ability that translated into incredible firepower for the Steelers offense.

That’s gone now, at least for the season’s first four games. Worse yet, Bryant can earn a 10 game suspension with a single piss. That’s quite an accomplishment for a player with 10 NFL games under his belt….

News of Bryant’s suspension shifted attention to who would take his roster spot, with the focus falling on C.J. Goodwin, Shakim Phillips and Tyler Murphy as the Steelers head into their preseason game vs. the Bills. Each of these three roster bubble players have had their moments in preseason and it is all but certain that Martavis Bryant’s suspension opens a roster spot for one of them.

  • But a roster spot does not equal a role in the offense let alone a helmet on game day.

And the one player to stands to gain the most from Bryant’s suspension is all but guaranteed a roster spot and his name is Dri Archer. The Steelers drafted Dri Archer a round before drafting Bryant in the 2014 NFL Draft and the move quite frankly caused a lot of head scratching.

Yes, Dri Archer’s 4.26 time in the 40 made him the fastest man in the 2014 NFL Draft. But he was small. Dri Archer’s 5’8” 173 pounds statue led many to question not only his status as a third round draft pick but also even whether he belonged in the NFL.

The Steelers nonetheless had big plans for Archer. They use his speed as a kick returner and planned to unleash his versatility as a utility back in the mold of Eric Metcalf or Dave Meggett. By any measure Dri Archer disappointed in 2014. He returned 1 punt for 2 yards and only 9 kicks, with the longest coming in at 23 yards.

As a rusher, Dri Archer only gained 40 yards on 10 carries, and 15 of those came in one long run. Things weren’t much better through the air as Archer’s 10 catch 23 yard resume betrays none of his break away speed.

Fair enough. Rookie seasons are supposed to be tough. A quick look at the Steelers 2014 preseason stat sheet reveals that Dri Archer is the team’s number 2 receiver and number 2 rusher. Sounds impressive, but is it? Not really. 8 carries is hardly something enough to hang your hat on, and 7 catches for 41 yards isn’t much either.

  • But the Steelers need someone else to help stretch the field in Bryant’s absence.

On paper, Dri Archer would seem to be the one player who could do that. Opportunity is knocking at Dri Archer’s door. The question is, how will he respond?

Dri Archer’s opportunity is standing right infront of him. He would do well to begin taking advantage it during the Steelers-Bills preseason contest.

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