Ryan Switzer increasingly part of the Steelers' offense
The Pittsburgh Steelers’ leading pass-catcher Sunday wasn’t All Pro Antonio Brown, nor was it emerging JuJu Smith-Schuster. In fact, it wasn’t any wide receiver or tight end – or even a starter.
It was Ryan Switzer.
Acquired the final week of the preseason from Oakland in a swap of late-round draft picks, Switzer caught all seven of the balls Ben Roethlisberger threw his way in the 26-14 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Including a second-half rush, Switzer had eight touches among the 21 offensive snaps he played.
Counting special teams (Switzer is the Steelers’ punt and kick returner) no skill player had more touches for the Steelers than Switzer. Perhaps even more notable than Switzer’s overall usage is that the Steelers often lined him up in the backfield in lieu of starting running back James Conner.
“I am just trying to continue to make a name for myself,” Switzer said, “continue to learn my role in this offense and continue to learn Ben’s trust and coaching staff’s trust.”
For a team that rarely took Le’Veon Bell off the field in recent years past, Conner sat out 13 of the Steelers’ 73 offensive snaps. Neither other running back on the team (Stevan Ridley and Jaylen Samuels) played on offense Sunday.
Coach Mike Tomlin said the decision to use Switzer instead of Conner was “just personnel packages that we worked within.
“He’s a valuable component of our offense and has been a nice contributor.”
Switzer had 32 receiving yards on his seven catches and his carry went for 1 yard. For the season, Switzer has 11 catches for 55 yards and four carries for 14 yards in addition to a 10.1 yard average on eight punt returns and 20.5 average on 11 kickoff returns.
Counting targeted passes that were incomplete, the Steelers have turned to Switzer for a touch or target on 35.4 percent of the offensive snaps he has played this season – a higher rate than they’ve used Conner (34.1 percent).
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.