Up to the point at which he was just arriving in Pittsburgh, 2018 had not been going well for Ryan Switzer, the second-year wide receiver who spent much of the year packing his bags and moving after having been traded twice. First it was from Dallas to Oakland in April, then from Oakland to Pittsburgh in August.
By that point, after having struggled to make any kind of connection, let alone impact, he wasn’t sure if football was going to be in the cards for him. That’s when Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers opened things up to him. And he has spent some time this offseason telling his story as a contrast to those of others from the team’s past.
Speaking on The Herd, Switzer recounted his first days on the team and how Roethlisberger embraced him even though the veteran quarterback knew nothing about him. Yet, he knew plenty about the quarterback, having watched him play growing up.
The first time I introduced myself to Ben, I don’t know if I was ever that polite or that formal. Just, ‘hey, I’m Ryan Switzer, nice to meet you’. And he was just like ‘hi, I’m Ben’”, he said. And two days after that, it was time to suit up for a preseason game.
“I remember the first preseason game, I played in that preseason game”, he said. “They gave me a couple plays, I really didn’t know anything about the offense. I come back to the sideline and Ben was like, ‘hey man, come over here’. And I was like, ‘you’re talking to me?’.
“The next thing you know, I’m on the sideline with him and he’s got the iPad and he’s talking about a route that I ran and what he would have liked to have seen. And then he was just like, ‘we’ll get it fixed’. Dude doesn’t know anything about me, doesn’t know my history, doesn’t know, and he’s sitting here going over film with me. Met me two days ago. So that did a lot for me”.
This was last year’s preseason finale against the Carolina Panthers, in which Roethlisberger obviously did not play. Switzer played all of two snaps. The two studied film in a game in which one didn’t play, and the other ran two routes, having just been brought into the fold two days before and not having a clear role on offense.
Switzer wasn’t the only receiver new to the offense, however, and he provided some perspective as well on the James Washington story:
“I know that he took a lot of heat this year for the things that he was saying about our young rookie, James Washington, but what a lot of people didn’t see was the day after that, or maybe the same day, him and James spent maybe half an hour just them two in the receiver room”.
Washington himself recently spoke about that long conversation with the team’s website and said that he needed that talk and that it helped him get through the rest of the season. He was able to make a couple plays toward the end of the year to head into season two.