Switzer is locked in


It's something that is running through Ryan Switzer's veins during this camp. And for good reason. It's his first Steelers camp.

Switzer was traded to the team last year, arriving late in the preseason but after the team broke from camp.

"Even though I have been with the Steelers for about a year, this is my first time with the team during training camp," said Switzer.

And he is taking advantage of it.

"I think it's just going to give me so much more of an advantage over the Ryan Switzer of last year showing up a week before the first game of the regular season," said Switzer. "I have been extremely locked in on bettering myself and continuing to progress each year in my role."

It also gives him the opportunity to further build relationships with his teammates, with the setting at Saint Vincent College the perfect setup for team bonding.

"I am a true believer in relationships," said Switzer. "I don't think you can be at your best with 11 other guys, and they say football is the ultimate team sport, and you can't be your best without those relationships. That is why the Steelers have historically been so dominant. Because there is not a lot of turnover. You look at the offensive line and how long they have been playing together. You look at Ben (Roethlisberger). They appreciate home grown talent."

Switzer said he came into camp at 178 pounds, the lightest he has been since his senior year of high school. And for a player who is going to be called upon for his speed every pound counts.

"Hopefully it helps me a ton," said Switzer. "I have been conditioning extremely hard, preparing for the heat, the season. It's a misconception as a little guy you have to be strong to take hits. You have to be able to run. My forte is being able to run and not take hits. I tried to master that this offseason."

Switzer knows he has a great opportunity ahead of him in camp with the departure of Antonio Brown, who was traded to the Raiders in the offseason. There is a lot of productivity that Brown accounted for that will be going elsewhere this year, and Switzer wants to be one of the receivers to capitalize on that.

"There are 170 targets that have been vacated from last year," sad Switzer. "I don't see us throwing the ball any less. That's opportunity for guys to get more targets during the game. Hopefully more for myself. We have to take advantage of it.

"I am expecting a lot out of myself, in terms of yardage and receptions. I didn't have a big year last year, but I am still our second leading receiver that's coming back, so I take a big responsibility in that. I want to make sure I live up to everything I am supposed to.

"I want to get the ball in my hands. I think there is an opportunity for me to do that and I am looking forward to it."

He is already off to a good start. Switzer walked away from practice on Sunday pleased with what was accomplished on the first day in pads since the 2018 season ended.

"I had a really productive day," said Switzer. "I am happy with how it went. Hopefully I can build on it and keep making strides to earn all of those targets."

And he looks forward to doing it with a little more knowledge under his belt. Last year he had to learn the offense on fast-forward, with no real time to prepare. This year he had the entire offseason program to learn the offense and he is using that to his advantage.

"I came in and learned the offense in a week last year," said Switzer. "But you can't master anything in a week. I am as close to mastering the offense as I ever have been. As much as they used me last year, it can only go up because of how much I know and how comfortable they are with me this year."

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