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Ryan Switzer’s path to the Cowboys roster got a lot easier

Switzer will be the Cowboys’ starting return man this NFL season. Why?

NFL: Dallas Cowboys-Minicamp Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

By now you’ve probably heard of the Lucky Whitehead saga going down with the Dallas Cowboys. His dog was kidnapped and held for ransom, but safely returned to him. Then, this past Monday, Whitehead was released from the Cowboys after the team learned of his supposed arrest and skipping of a court date for shoplifting $25 worth of goods from a convenience store. Never mind the fact that the cops were given incorrect information from a witness.

Whitehead was released as a reaction to a crime he didn’t commit, but the team stated it was due to a “culmination of things over time,” whatever that means. Owner Jerry Jones didn’t fight as hard for Whitehead as he did for Ezekiel Elliot, but that’s what star power gets you. Hopefully another team picks up Whitehead. (Note: Whitehead was picked up from waivers by the New York Jets.)

What does this have to do with Ryan Switzer? Well, the Cowboys drafted UNC’s all-time receiving leader this year, and Whitehead was Switzer’s primary competition going into training camp. As a fourth-round draft pick, Switzer already had a good chance at making the team. Still, Witehead’s dismissal removes all doubt from the equation. Should the Cowboys receive a kickoff to start their Week 1 affair against the New York Giants, Switzer will almost certainly be back there to return it.

Switzer spoke to the Cowboys team training camp blog about the situation, and to his credit he’s handling it professionally:

“There’s always competition. Just because Luck’s not here doesn’t mean – really anything, for me. The best ones always find a way to better themselves. The best love to compete. They always find competition. Whether that be going against our guys, whether that be preseason, whether that be Week 1 against the Giants – there’s always competition. So I’ve got to make sure I stay ready and, when my time is called, produce.”

When I rated every Tar Heel rookie’s chances at making their respective NFL rosters, I rated Switzer at 85%. I’d bump that up to 99% now. Whether or not he will see action with the Cowboys’ receiving corps or even in the backfield remains to be seen; his play during the preseason will certainly inform that. However, I imagine the Cowboys don’t want to reveal some of their more creative packages during meaningless games.

Across two years with the Cowboys, Whitehead ran the ball 20 times for 189 yards (a pretty nice average of 9.5 yards per carry) and caught nine passes for 64 yards. That said, he never scored a touchdown rushing the ball, catching the ball, or returning the ball, and he fumbled four times in his limited action. Enter Switzer, who has a chance to add even more value.

Although Switzer will be competing against vastly superior condition after moving from college to the NFL, that doesn’t change his explosiveness and instincts. During his time at UNC, Switzer had one touchdown every fourteen times he touched the ball on a punt return. If you’re looking for a former UNC player to keep an eye on during the preseason, Switzer is the man to watch.

His first chance is coming soon—the Cowboys meet the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday, August 3rd, for the annual Hall of Fame Game, and Switzer will be lining up against his former teammate T.J. Logan. Look for a detailed breakdown of their performances right here after the game!