Based on the comments sections on here, it seems as though very nearly everybody is more than ready to give up on Ryan Switzer, and believing that the only chance that he has of making the 53-man roster for the Pittsburgh Steelers again is the fact that he has become good friends with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger—which, admittedly, never hurts a player’s chances.
A fourth-round pick taken by the Dallas Cowboys in 2017, he found his way to Oakland by the following Spring, and then the Steelers acquired him via another trade that same offseason in August. He was successful in his limited offensive role that year, taking short passes and some carries out of the backfield, even showing the ability to take a hit.
He had a lot of fans then who were encouraged about his ability to develop into a weapon out of the slot. Almost all of them are gone after his poor showing last year. He gained just 27 yards on eight receptions, producing a stunningly low 3.4 yards per reception. Even worse, he averaged 3.6 yards per punt return. And just 18.4 yards per kick return.
By the numbers, it’s impossible to defend Switzer’s performance last season. But he knows this as well as anybody else. Earlier in the offseason, he opened up about it on Twitter, responding to a Tweet directed at the Steelers’ account that simply said, “cut @Switz”, which is his Twitter handle.
He said that he shared in that fan’s disappointment with his performance, but that “the only way last season becomes a failure for me is if I don’t learn from it & improve”. While he said he didn’t agree with all the criticism he’s gotten, he understands it. While there were many reasons for his struggles, “the only one that I’ll accept is that I didn’t get it done”.
That was in March. By then, he was already working on catching passes with Ben Roethlisberger, and they have remained close, including their families, throughout the social distancing era we’re currently living in.
He enters this season understanding the numbers. JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Diontae Johnson, and Chase Claypool are all definitely going to make the roster. Deon Cain also returns from last season, and they may only keep five wide receivers. Others took over his return roles. There are other options. He knows all he can do is put in the work, and that starts with getting right, not just mentally, but also physically after finishing the year on injured reserve with a back injury.
“I feel good”, he told Mark Kaboly of The Athletic. “First and foremost I had to get healthy just rehabbing my back. I feel good. I am optimistic even how rough last year was for me and how it played out for me, I am optimistic. I am in a good headspace. I know what I need to accomplish. I am on the same page with my OC, my receivers coach and with 7. We will see what happens”.