The Dallas Cowboys used a fourth-round draft pick on wide receiver Ryan Switzer just last year. They made him their starting return man, but were reluctant to make use of him on the offensive side of the ball. He had just 10 touches on offense during his rookie season, registering six receptions for 41 yards and four rushes for five yards.
He has only played in four games so far for the Pittsburgh Steelers this season, but he has already surpassed his touch total from a year ago, and then some. He currently has 15 touches on the season, on pace for 60 on the year, which is a good workload for a number four wide receiver.
Switzer caught a career-high seven passes on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens for 55 yards, which included a career-long of 14 yards. He also rushed once for one yard. In all, he has 11 receptions on the season for 55 yards and four rushes for 14 yards. He also scored the first offensive touchdown of his career last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I am just trying to continue to make a name for myself”, he told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review yesterday in his first season with the Steelers; “continue to learn my role in this offense and continue to earn Ben’s trust and coaching staff’s trust”.
Switzer was initially traded to the Oakland Raiders in April for defensive end Jihad Ward, who had been a second-round draft pick in 2016. But the Raiders ultimately decided that they preferred Dwayne Harris as a return man, and so were willing to move him to the Steelers—along with a sixth-round pick—for the Steelers’ fifth-round choice in next year’s draft.
Even though he only got to Pittsburgh shortly before the final preseason game, the coaches haven’t been shy about getting him involved. His snap count has slowly climbed as he gets more and more comfortable with the offense. He has recorded at least three touches in each of the past three games.
Switzer actually has as many touches out of the backfield currently as all running backs on the roster behind James Conner. Jaylen Samuels has yet to even play, while Stevan Ridley has totaled four carries. Ridley has taken seven snaps from the backfield, and eight in total, while Switzer has lined up in the backfield 10 times—not including times that he lined up there initially before motioning out to the slot.
In other words, the Steelers have used an extra wide receiver more than they have a different running back so far this season in order to give Conner a breather here and there. And while it’s not going to get a ton of use, the 01 personnel package appears to be here to stay—at least until Le’Veon Bell gets here. Then perhaps they might try 10 instead, which they used in 2016.