When the Dallas Cowboys traded Ryan Switzer last Saturday, they dealt away more than just an option in the passing game. They shipped off their primary kick and punt returner.
Switzer played well in the return game, so well that he even housed a punt for a score back on November 30th against the Redskins. His lowest point in this facet indisputably came in October against the Rams when his muffed punt seriously turned the game.
Coincidentally, it’s a former member of the Rams that could help fill the void Switzer leaves behind. Tavon Austin might take wearing Switzer’s old number to mean he’s handling all of his old duties, but is he really the right man for the job?
Logic says Austin will handle kicks and punts, he’s scored on three punts himself throughout his career (the most recent instance back in 2015 when the Rams were still in St. Louis). Who are other candidates, though?
Rod Smith lined up on kick returns with Switzer (he even returned one last season), and Cole Beasley has been known to also handle punts. There are plenty of folks who have suggested that cornerback Jourdan Lewis get in on the action, but he might be too valuable to the team defensively to risk him in such a capacity.
Another candidate for return duties could be wide receiver Deonte Thompson, who the Cowboys signed this offseason. He handled kick returns for both the Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears during his time there.
This gives us four real options in terms of Tavon, Rod, Cole, and Deonte. It makes sense for Tavon to be “the” guy charged with the responsibilities the way that Switzer was, with someone like Cole spelling him on punts occasionally and Deonte on kicks.
Barring anything unforeseen, it seems like Tavon has just taken everything that was Ryan Switzer’s. Ouch.