The reaction across the vast Steelers fan base was probably mixed, but just glancing at our various social media platforms, the majority of those who voiced their opinion think the end is near for Mr. Coates in the Steel City.
And it is difficult to disagree with their sentiment.
The Steelers already had a ridiculously competitive wide receiver training camp battle ready to ensue, and that was including a healthy Coates in the mix. With him missing time, it only gives others an opportunity to push him out the door, and cement a spot for themselves on the team’s 53-man roster.
Let’s take a look at the competition first:
Antonio Brown *
Martavis Bryant *
Eli Rogers *
JuJu Smith-Schuster *
The asterisks next to names signifies a lock to make the team, in my opinion. Other than those four players, it seems to be a battle to the very end for the final two, maybe three, wide receiver spots.
With that said, how does Coates’ missing time complicate matters worse? Well, if he were 100-percent healthy, he probably would be a near lock to make the team. The Steelers spent a third round pick on him, and they don’t give up on their draft picks, especially a third round selection, that easily. However, him spending the early portions, at least, of camp on the sideline, it will give players a chance to prove their worth.
Let me start by saying Severin would be a perfect practice squad candidate. Other than that, I don’t believe he has a chance to make the team. Cobi Hamilton, as clutch as he was from time-to-time last year, is also unlikely to make the team, barring an injury to some above him on the depth chart. That leaves Coates, Ayers, Hunter and Heyward-Bey to battle it out.
Coates, being out of the equation, has a huge ripple effect on the depth chart. Hunter, who is very similar to Coates in regards to his size, speed and consistency, could prove a cheap acquisition who could fill Coates’ role on the team. Heyward-Bey is a veteran, team leader and willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win, including playing special teams. His value has been proven time and time again.
In my opinion, if Coates isn’t going to make the roster, and I’m not about to say that is going to happen just yet, the battle is between Hunter and Ayers. Ayers could have a chance to prove his worth as a return man, as well as another receiver the team could lean on in specific situations to help his odds of being on the right side of things on cut-down day.
So, what will the depth chart look like when the dust settles? That is anyone’s guess, but one this is for sure, the wide receiver training camp battle just got a lot more interesting.
Always remember, you can’t make the club from the tub.