Steelers News

Gruden Says Decision To Trade Switzer Was Due To Overall Versatility, Special Teams Play Of Harris

Former North Carolina wide receiver Ryan Switzer is now on his third NFL team after the Pittsburgh Steelers acquired him on Monday via a trade with the Oakland Raiders. During his Monday press conference, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden was asked about the decision to trade Switzer, who Oakland had acquired this past April from the Dallas Cowboys via a trade.

“I think he’s a good player,” Gruden said of Switzer, who caught just one pass for a 7-yard touchdown in the Raiders first three preseason games in addition to returning three punts for a one-yard loss. “He deserves an opportunity and want to help him obviously get going learning a new offense and Dwayne Harris is going to be our kick and punt returner.”

Gruden was then asked if anything had changed in regard to Switzer since the Raiders had acquired him via a trade because the head coach seemed intrigued with him once he arrived in April.

“No, we got a good opportunity to get a good pick for him today,” Gruden said. “It was good for the Raiders. I think he’s a good player, I think he’s going to do well and I think Dwayne Harris is going to do well for us, also. But it comes down, as you said during camp, special teams is a big part of the fourth, fifth receiver and that was the case again this year.”

In short, Gruden and the Raiders liked Harris over Switzer when it comes to the special value both players offer. Additionally, Gruden noted that Harris can play every wide receiver position, is a versatile player, and that includes playing some in the slot. Gruden also noted that Harris is a core special teams player, while Switzer is only really a returner.

“He’s a Pro Bowl special-teamer,” Gruden said of Harris.

After the Steelers Monday practice, head coach Mike Tomlin also talked about Switzer after first announcing the team had acquired him from the Raiders earlier in the day via a trade.

“He’s a dual return man, a slot receiver,” Tomlin said of Switzer. “Of note, a guy that we evaluated prior to the [2017] draft. He was down there with [Mitch] Trubisky at UNC. Caught a lot of balls on offense, was a dangerous return man over the course of his career. So, we’ll put him in this mix with these guys and hopefully get him ready to go here on Thursday night and just continue to build our football team and try to be strong in all areas.”

Switzer will now move forward as the Steelers punt and kick returner and will also likely be a backup slot receiver behind JuJu Smith Schuster. Look for Switzer to play in the Steelers Thursday night preseason finale against the Carolina Panthers and return every punt and kickoff in that contest.

Switzer, who was originally selected by the Cowboys in the fourth-round of the 2017 NFL Draft, took to Twitter not long after he had been traded to the Steelers.

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