Steelers 2-a-days: Robert Spillane can tackle; Ryan Switzer can do plenty
Editor’s note: From now until the first practice of training camp at Saint Vincent College, the Trib will be running through the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 90-man roster, assessing each player’s outlook for the 2019 season. The breakdown will go through the roster in mostly-alphabetical order, (at least) two per day, between June 14 and July 26.
ILB ROBERT SPILLANE
Experience: Two regular-season games for the Titans last season as an undrafted rookie
Contract status: $495,000 cap hit in 2019, under contractual control for four accrued seasons
2019 outlook: Spillane did not play on defense during his short tenure on the Titans’ 53-man roster last season. He was limited to 20 special-teams snaps. Spillane was all over the field in the preseason as a rookie, though, getting 25 tackles (16 solo), a sack and an interception (against the Steelers, no less) in four games. He was also a productive tackler over four seasons (three as a starter) in college for Western Michigan. His raw athleticism wasn’t viewed as good enough to be drafted, though, so if Spillane is going to carve out a role for the Steelers, it will be on special teams or on the scout team.
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) August 25, 2018
WR RYAN SWITZER
Experience: 3rd season
Contract status: $645,000 cap hit in 2019, signed through 2020
2019 outlook: He arrived in Pittsburgh less than two weeks before the season began, but Switzer played a significant role for the 2018 Steelers. He was their sole punt and kickoff returner all season, and he had 42 touches (36 catches, six rushes) on offense while playing about 20 offensive snaps per game. Switzer lined up in the backfield, and he ran routes out of the slot. He was particularly adept in third-down situations. In the return game, he provided needed stability on kickoffs, and his presence allowed the Steelers to quit having to rely on Antonio Brown to return punts. But that all said, Switzer has competition from all angles during this training camp. Eli Rogers, Diontae Johnson, Diontae Spencer and even Johnny Holton are receivers who weren’t around when last season began, and they are threats to seize jobs as a returner, slot receiver or even just as another depth receiver. Still, the smart money is on Switzer.
Four of Ryan Switzer's five receptions the last two weeks have been third down conversions. For a team needing a #3 WR, his nuanced route running and football IQ have been valuable. #Steelershttps://t.co/I1A5OCkLLB pic.twitter.com/YDC3QwVvfo
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) November 10, 2018
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .