In case of emergency, Steelers can call Ryan Switzer’s number at QB
The Pittsburgh Steelers already have lost Ben Roethlisberger to season-ending elbow surgery and Mason Rudolph to a concussion and are down to their third quarterback.
The question had to be asked, God forbid anything would happen to rookie Devlin Hodges or backup Paxton Lynch, who was promoted from the practice squad: Who is the Steelers’ emergency quarterback?
No one wants to see the answer first-hand, so it should come as no surprise Steelers offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner gave a number instead of a name.
No, it wasn’t 9-1-1.
“No. 10 always handles that,” Fichtner said, referring to third-year receiver Ryan Switzer. “He always takes snaps before the game. He’ll always have the extra wristband off to the side, that type of thing. He might not be able to do as much. There may be a lot on that wrist band that is never called, but there is a lot that you still could do.”
How did Switzer, who has lined up at running back and slot receiver and returned kicks and punts for the Steelers, get that role? Did he have to audition or win a competition?
“I think I got volunteered by Randy himself,” Switzer said, with a smile. “He said, ‘You’re the emergency QB.’ There was no, can you? It was just, you are.”
The 5-foot-8, 187-pound Switzer welcomes any opportunity for playing time, given he’s only played two offensive snaps in the past three games after catching seven passes for 29 yards in the first two. He’s been relegated to a special-teams role since the second half against Seattle in the home opener at Heinz Field, averaging 18 yards on four kick returns and 4.7 yards on four punt returns this season.
“I would like to get on the field wherever I can fit in,” Switzer said. “I’d like to be out there. I get in where I can fit in, as many ways as I can help the team.”
Switzer offered that he played quarterback “a bunch” at George Washington High School in Charleston, W.Va., and “threw some passes in college” at North Carolina.
“That’s about the extent of my experience,” he said.
Switzer is shortchanging his success. He completed 3 of 5 passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns for a 368.4 passer rating at North Carolina. Switzer tossed a 59-yard touchdown to Quinshad Davis against N.C. State in 2013 and a 35-yard scoring pass to T.J. Thorpe against East Carolina in ’14.
— Brett Friedlander (@BFriedACC) September 20, 2014
— Gregory Trollinger (@GTrollinger) November 2, 2013
Yet Switzer’s next NFL pass will be his first. He hasn’t had to take a snap yet in his career. He knows the playbook and has a wristband he could wear with the script but notes that he hasn’t had to read defenses or pick up blitzes.
When asked if his playing quarterback would be bad news for the Steelers, he feigned a response like he was insulted.
“Is it?” Switzer said, pausing before letting out a laugh. “We don’t want anyone to get hurt. That’s a worst-case-scenario type of situation.”
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .