The Pittsburgh Steelers knew they needed reinforcements to bolster their wide receiver corps when Martavis Bryant was suspended earlier this offseason.
However, the Steelers didn’t need to grab too many wide receivers in the free agency or NFL Draft. The Steelers, who will presumably start Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton as the No. 1 and 2 receivers, have their own weapon that could potentially have a breakout season already on their roster.
Sammie Coates didn’t see much action last season, but his role could increase dramatically this season. Coates saw playing time in six games last season, but only had one reception for 11 yards. Coates had no touchdowns, and he also didn’t have any rush attempts.
However, the regular season wasn’t where Steelers fans got a glimpse of Coates’ future. That came during the AFC Divisional Playoff game against the Denver Broncos. Coates had two receptions for 61 yards, with his longest catch being 37 yards. While he didn’t have a touchdown in the game, he showed that he could be a presence for long throws from Ben Roethlisberger.
He showed he could fill the void that will be left by Bryant’s suspension. Coates has already been working hard this offseason. According to Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Steelers’ offensive coordinator Todd Haley said that Coates is having a “tremendous offseason” and that he’s “turned it up a notch” so far in the offseason.
Coates has even made a leap from a rookie to smarter second-year player. While talking to Teresa Varley of the Steelers’ official website, Coates noted that he needed his fitness improved.
“The biggest thing I learned is to be in great shape,” said Coates. “You always think you are in great shape. When I got here and saw the speed changed, I got in better shape when the season went on. You have to be in shape before the season starts.”
Coates has been to every one of the Steelers OTAs and will be fighting to be the No. 3 receiver against Darrius Heyward-Bey at training camp, which begins in July. With Bryant’s suspension, the Steelers are going to heavily rely on Coates to get the job done this season.