The Pittsburgh Steelers are in desperate need of a bona fide No. 2 wide receiver on their roster. They clearly have Antonio Brown, the best in the business, but other than Brown it has been a mixed bag of goods slotted as the team’s second best receiver.
Markus Wheaton was supposed to start the season in that position, followed by Sammie Coates, then Darrius Heyward-Bey, Eli Rogers was there for a cup of coffee and now Cobi Hamilton.
Not quite the star-studded cast of characters fans expected when they started the 2016 season, but if there is one player who is capable of filling the role it is Sammie Coates. Fans know the frustrations surrounding Coates’ game. A lightning rod with size and speed, and at times accompanied by head-scratching drops.
Who can forget the game against the New York Jets when Coates went off for over 200-yards receiving and two touchdowns. The future looked bright for No. 14, but in that game he suffered a laceration which required stitches, and two broken fingers.
Following the game fans speculated on just how the broken fingers would impact his play. He saw very little of the field against the Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys and again against the Cleveland Browns.
He is still playing special teams, but at the same time, fans were starting to wonder if Coates had been demoted for poor play, or something off the field. In Mike Tomlin’s Monday press conference he stated it was simple. It is tough catching a football with two broken fingers.
Tomlin said broken fingers are the reason Coates is not playing. Can't catch the ball clean.— Ray Fittipaldo (@rayfitt1) November 21, 2016
The news of Coates not playing due to the broken digits does little to help the team as they continue to search for a receiver not named Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell to try and lighten the load.
In the Week 11 win over the Browns, receivers outside of Bell and Brown tallied 7 receptions, all while Brown and Bell recorded 8 a piece. When the Steelers play better competition, the offense will need to be more wide spread at the receiver position, and it doesn’t seem as if Coates will be available anytime soon.
So, the team will continue to rely on the likes of Eli Rogers, Cobi Hamilton, Ladarius Green and Jesse James to help draw the attention of opposing defenses for the foreseeable future. If Coates can heal and return, it will be a welcome sight as the team has been missing a deep threat to take the top off the defense since he left the lineup.