With the 2015 season behind us, it is easy for fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers to have a nice outlook on wide receiver Sammie Coates. Their last impression of the young wide out from Auburn is a tremendous performance against the Denver Broncos in the Divisional round of the AFC Playoffs which saw him reel in 3 catches for 61 yards. However, things weren't always so positive for the rookie.
In a recent interview with ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, Coates talked about how his conditioning was the "downfall" of his rookie season. In fact, Mike Tomlin publicly chastised Coates for his lack of conditioning multiple times in the preseason. Public comments like that are common place for Tomlin to motivate the players in his locker room, but it didn't happen overnight for Coates.
"I wasn't in the greatest shape I wanted to be," Coates told Fowler.
Even after finishing the season on a high note, in his exit interview with Tomlin, the coach emphasized picking up 2016 where he left off in 2015.
"You finished strong, you have to start strong this time," Coates recalled. "I can't come in slow. I have to come in fast and ready to go."
With Martavis Bryant suspended for at least the 2016 season, Coates will be relied upon to be a bigger cog in the Steelers' offensive machine.
"Coaches can tell you one thing, but you still have to work and show you can handle it," Coates said. "It's going to be a good task for me. Even though the door opened up the way it shouldn't have with my teammate [Bryant], I have to step in and be accountable the way he would be."
"As a wide receiver, you have to be consistent," Coates said. "Coming in, I had a lot of people questioning things. In my offense [at Auburn], I barely got five balls thrown at me a game. So my biggest goal now is doing things over and over to be great at it. You have to be able to do it all."
The Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger will likely be targeting Coates a lot more in 2016, and fans around the globe hope he is up for the task.