The Dallas Cowboys seemed to give up on Ryan Switzer after just a season despite using a fourth-round draft choice on him in 2017 and carrying him on their roster all year, making him their starting returner and finally beginning to use the wide receiver on offense late in the year.
They proceeded to trade him to the Oakland Raiders early this offseason, giving up on former second-round defensive lineman Jihad Ward (Ward then proceeded to miss the Cowboys’ roster, so Dallas ended up with nothing for Switzer).
Now, I wouldn’t be writing about Switzer if the Raiders, too, did not give up on him. As they acquired him, they also acquired return specialist Dwayne Harris, and in the end they did not expect him to make their roster, so when the Steelers inquired about him, they decided to swap late-round picks to make the move.
In his first 12 games with Pittsburgh, the first of which came only weeks after he was first acquired, Switzer ahs obviously been an asset, catching 29 passes for 223 yards and a touchdown, and he has been increasingly productive over the past month.
Over the past five games, he has caught 16 passes for 156 yards. He caught just two passes for nine yards last week, but was forced to leave the game after suffering a concussive hit as he tried to secure a third catch in the contest.
Fortunately he wasted no time clearing the concussion protocol and has been a full participant in practice all week, even making an appearance at a local children’s hospital. Tomorrow, he heads back to Oakland for the first time since they traded him.
“I don’t have anything to say about them”, Switzer said when asked about the team he is set to face this week, adding only, “I’m really happy to be here. I love being a Pittsburgh Steeler”.
He likely features in Sunday’s game as the Steelers’ number three receiver, which is a role that he has held for most of the past two-plus games, but which was oddly not the case in the first half of the last game, Justin Hunter being given that opportunity.
He figures to split time with rookie James Washington, whose struggles to contribute have been well-documented. The Steelers are desperately seeking his breakout performance, as they had visions of a second-half breakout reminiscent of JuJu Smith-Schuster from a year ago.
While Washington has failed to secure the number three role, Switzer has been able to fill some of that void. He had mostly been used in four-receiver sets prior to recent weeks, but as it has become increasingly clear that he is their third-best option, he has seen more work out of 11 personnel as well.
Now he gets a chance to show Jon Gruden just what they missed out on as they work with a lame Jordy Nelson, Seth Roberts, and Marcell Ateman.