It seems as though the trade for former Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders wide receiver Ryan Switzer very late in the offseason by the Pittsburgh Steelers is becoming increasingly more important as the weeks wear on.
The second-year man out of North Carolina, who came to the team in very late August, had his biggest game of the season on Sunday against the Denver Broncos in terms of yardage, his 67 receiving yards being more than double the amount he has had in any other game. It was also just the second time he has had more than three receptions with six.
Head Coach Mike Tomlin was asked during his pre-game press conference earlier today if he was at all surprised by what he has seen from Switzer so far through the first 11 games working with him, and his immediate response was simple: “no”.
“I watched a lot of North Carolina tape, man, that’s a dangerous guy”, he said, referring to Switzer’s college career in which he finished by pairing with Mitchell Trubisky. “We were excited about acquiring him. He’s still got some ball ahead of him [in terms of] room for growth”.
The thing that seemed to impress Tomlin the most, however, is not what he has been doing, but the circumstances under which he has done them. “There’s a guy that got on a moving train and so we’re pleased with his contributions but we’re also sensitive to [the fact that] he got on a moving train”, he said.
“He’s sensitive to [that as well] and I think he’s working extremely hard day in and day out to catch up, to get the nuances, the minutiae, the things that’s going to allow him to continued contributor to our efforts”.
Switzer went from seeing seven snaps in the season opener to finally a whopping 52 on Sunday as he surpassed James Washington as the team’s number three wide receiver for the game, a trend that began in the fourth quarter of the previous week.
He has now played 170 snaps in total on offense, including 146 routes run, so his 214 receiving yards equates to nearly 1.5 yards per route run. That is pretty significant considering that when he is on the field he is playing with Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster, and that his targets are almost routinely shallow.
But the things the Steelers are asking him to do, and are trusting him to do within the offense, seem to be expanding on a weekly basis. And with Washington still not breaking through, the 5’8” Switzer is filling some big shoes in the meantime.