The last time Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown played a full season together in Pittsburgh in 2017, they combined for 3,479 yards from scrimmage and 18 touchdowns for the Steelers. Brown then 1,297 yards and 15 touchdowns by himself last year with Bell in a season-long hold out.
Now both are gone and the Steelers will have to find a way to replicate that production in their absence.
Ryan Switzer wants to step up and take command of the slot receiver as the Steelers offense looks to retool itself in 2019. The key to doing so is taking his chemistry with Ben Roethlisberger to the next level.
“It takes a different kind of guy to work the middle of the field, be able to be on the same page as the quarterback,” Switzer said, via Jonathan Bombulie of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “There’s a lot of different reads and a lot of different adjustments you’ve got to make in the middle of the field. I’m getting the hang of it. I’m, obviously, not there yet, but I’m working on it.”
Switzer is about to enter his third season in the NFL and second with Pittsburgh. The former fourth-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 2017 was traded to the Oakland Raiders in April and the Steelers in August. Switzer managed to carve out a more regular role with the Steelers offense than he had in his rookie season in Dallas. Switzer caught 36 passes for 253 yards and a touchdown last year for Pittsburgh.
Switzer had to get up to speed with Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense in short order after being traded at the end of training camp. Now in year two with Pittsburgh, Switzer feels better prepared to take on a bigger role.
“The more reps that you get, the more game experience you get, the better the feel and the better you get,” Switzer said. “It helps when you’ve got a quarterback who’s done it for a long time and has a lot of experience in that area. He’s kind of molded me as the year went on. I’m learning from those experiences. Hopefully, we’ll put them to the test this year.”
However, Switzer isn’t the only receiver that will got a shot at the role in Pittsburgh. JuJu Smith-Schuster and Donte Moncrief will still see time lining up inside at times and Eli Rogers and rookie Diontae Johnson will get turns inside as well.