Dallas Cowboys rookie Ryan Switzer knows it’s difficult to score touchdowns in the return game these days. They have become more and more scarce in the NFL.
Part of it has to do with bumping touchbacks up to the 25-yard line.
Last season, there were only seven kickoffs and 10 punts returned for touchdowns. By comparison, in 2012, there were 13 kickoffs and 17 punts returned for scores.
So how does Switzer judge his return game?
“For us, on a returnable punt, we like to say get a first down,” Switzer said. “Get the offense a first down, 10 yards. Then when it’s presented to you and you can get more, get more. That’s kind of the baseline for us – a first down.
“On kick returns, obviously you start on the 25 if you take a knee. So anywhere in that range, 25 and on is a bonus.”
Switzer is expected to bolster the Cowboys’ return game this season.
Lucky Whitehead never found the end zone in his two years as the Cowboys’ primary returner, and averaged 7.8 yards on punt returns and 23.2 yards on kickoff returns last season.
Switzer, a fourth-round pick out of North Carolina, had a standout career as a returner in college. He has the ACC record with seven career punt returns for touchdowns, averaging 10.9 yards a return in his college career.
Switzer said there is a balance of knowing when to take chances such as reversing fields on returns.
“Sometimes doing too much can hurt you,” Switzer said. “It’s better to take that 5- or 6-yard gain than to try to bounce it and lose 2 yards or not gain anything at all.”
Switzer is ready to see what he can do at the pro level. A hamstring injury kept him out of preseason action, but he is healthy and ready to go for the regular-season opener Sept. 10 vs. the New York Giants.
“I feel great. I’ve put two solid weeks of practice in, so I’ll be ready to roll Sunday night,” Switzer said. “Obviously it would’ve been nice to get some reps, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to. I’ve got to make do with what I got. They’re expecting me to be ready Sunday night and I will be mentally and physically.
“I’m looking forward to it.”