Where has Ryan Switzer been so far this exhibition season?
Yes, while James Washington dazzled, rookie Diontae Johnson intrigued and Donte Moncrief fumbled during the Steelers first two preseason games, Ryan Switzer was shockingly quiet—we’re talking one catch for one yard quiet.
Even Eli Rogers, the man who once held the slot receiver role before suffering a torn ACL in the last game of the 2017 season and was quietly written off by many this offseason after only playing in three games in 2018, essentially looked like his pre-injury self while catching two passes for 31 yards against the Chiefs last Saturday.
But Switzer, to reiterate, has just been quiet.
What does that mean?
Honestly, it’s hard to predict roster outcomes based on things that take place during training camp and preseason games.
Last summer, for example, a lot of people—including yours truly—assumed veteran backup quarterback Landry Jones was safe to make the roster, despite his lack of participation in August football (a departure from previous preseasons) and the fact that Josh Dobbs, the then second-year third-string quarterback, had seemingly made huge strides from his rookie season.
Conversely, many people—again, including yours truly—assumed Jordan Berry, who had mostly unimpressed as a punter up to that point in his Steelers tenure, was doomed for the cutting room floor last summer after being outperformed by Matt Wile in exhibition action.
Obviously, if you’ve been paying attention, the opposite thing happened in each of those aforementioned examples.
Again, these things are hard to predict and/or read anything into.
Take Devin Bush as another example. Was a reported shoulder injury serious enough to hold him out of the Chiefs game, or are the coaches already confident enough in his abilities as a professional inside linebacker, they’re erring on the side of caution as it pertains to his health?
We don’t really know for sure.
Which brings me back to Switzer. We know of the affinity quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has for him, and when the franchise quarterback likes you, that tends to carry a lot of weight.
Is that enough?
Has Switzer seen limited action so far this preseason because the coaches are confident in his ability to contribute to an offense that still figures to be explosive despite the departures of Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell? Does the team already have huge plans for Switzer in 2019? Have the Steelers seen enough of him already—including in 2018 after arriving in a trade right before the start of the season, as well as his work at training camp—that they’ve felt it necessary to get longer looks at other receivers with futures that aren’t so set in stone?
We may get some more definitive answers on Sunday night, when Pittsburgh travels to Tennessee to take on the Titans in the third preseason match-up, unofficially known as The All-Important Dress Rehearsal Game.
Roethlisberger figures to play a few series, same for every other healthy veteran on both offense and defense. If Switzer is heavily involved in the action during Roethlisberger’s time in the game, that might tell us all we need to know about the security of the former’s roster spot. If he’s not heavily involved, I don’t really know what that all means. Obviously, it’s not as if Switzer has a Moncrief-type resume where there’s enough of him on tape as a receiver to know what he’s capable of, this despite his one catch for one fumble stat-line in the 2019 preseason.
And as far as being a return specialist, well, it’s hard to imagine Diontae Spencer not making the roster as a punt returner after his first two preseason performances this summer.
We have to assume four receivers—JuJu Smith-Schuster, Washington, Moncrief and Johnson—are locks to make the team. As for the other two or three spots? It’s hard to say. Do you go with six or seven? If it’s six, has Spencer truly done enough to make the team? Has Rogers already been written off? What about Johnny Holton as a possible replacement for Darrius Heyward-Bey on special teams?
If you keep seven receivers, how would that affect other positions, such as inside linebacker and safety?
If they decide keeping seven would mean parting ways with someone from another position they deem worthy of sticking around for the sake of upside, how much do they value Spencer’s return abilities vs. Switzer’s rapport with Roethlisberger?
Ryan Switzer’s participation on Sunday could be very telling for his immediate future with the Steelers.