The Pittsburgh Steelers made it clear after they made a trade for wide receiver Ryan Switzer that they eyed the acquisition of the former fourth-round draft pick because they felt it was necessary to address the position of the return man. Bringing in Switzer gave them a prime candidate to handle both kickoff and punt return duties, and he has returned all of both through the first two games of the regular season.
But the Steelers haven’t in any way limited him to being a special teams player. He has already gotten 20 snaps on offense over the course of the first two games, seven in the opener and 13 on Sunday. During the first game, he only saw time in the 01 package with four wide receivers, but he got some snaps as the number three wide receiver against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Switzer had just 10 touches in 16 games throughout his entire rookie season with the Dallas Cowboys. He has four already through two games with the Steelers despite having only arrived a few weeks ago, and that includes three touches in the last game.
He carried the ball twice in the game for a total of five yards, including a long of six yards. He lost a yard on his first carry on a play that had little chance of him escaping the backfield. He also caught a pass for 14 yards on second and six.
That was one of two targets for the second-year wide receiver in the game, and one of three on the season so far, though the first one—in the opener—he dropped. The other incompletion could be chalked up to an embryonic chemistry with Ben Roethlisberger that is still forming and taking shape.
The fact that the team is already comfortable in using him as much as they are so early on in his tenure with the team is, at least to me, encouraging. He can develop into a legitimate number four wide receiver that actually gets used, and who has his own niche as a different presentation out of the slot than what JuJu Smith-Schuster offers.
The Steelers were already high on Switzer before they acquired him. He was a player that they got an opportunity to scout when they were studying Mitchell Trubisky last year, but they already drafted Smith-Schuster in the second round.
What I like is that the top four targets on the team are all under contract for at least the next three years, those being Antonio Brown, Smith-Schuster, rookie James Washington, and now Switzer, whose return role will earn him a helmet over Justin Hunter.
There is an opportunity for legitimate sustained growth here, with three of those four players having a minimal amount of NFL experience. I think Switzer is going to be a part of that more than many would have thought when he was first acquired, and could justify continued use of four-receiver sets as a feature of the offense.