The Steelers receiver has been a disappointment thus far, though his career is still young. Has the team given up on him already?
It appears that Steelers wide receiver Sammie Coates will be sidelined for a few weeks after undergoing a knee scope to repair an injury he sustained during off-season workouts. The news was first reported yesterday evening by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
Coates will undoubtedly miss the start of training camp, as Pittsburgh’s first open practice will begin this Friday, July 28th. It is anticipated that he will be able to return to the field around mid-August.
For a player who is fighting for his job, even a minor set-back like this could have major consequences.
Pittsburgh has nine receivers on the roster, and will almost certainly not keep all of them. Of the nine, maybe four are guaranteed to make the final 53-man roster; the obvious four include Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Juju Smith-Schuster, and Eli Rogers. The rest will be spending all of training camp and the pre-season trying to prove they are worthy of keeping. This is why Coates can’t afford to miss an extended amount of time.
Last season, the Steelers kept five receivers on the roster, which is typical around the league. At the most, they will keep six this year. So, no matter what, the team will have to let go of at least three; who are the odd men out? An educated guess would peg former 2016 seventh-round pick Demarcus Ayers as the first roster-cut casualty at receiver, but who else?
Do they cut Cobi Hamilton, who made some big catches for Pittsburgh last season and has become a solid downfield threat? Or Darrius Heyward-Bey, who is in his fourth year with the team, knows the playbook, and still possesses electrifying speed? Perhaps Justin Hunter, a player the team signed during the off-season due to his potential, youth, and second-round draft pick pedigree.
Entering his third year in the NFL, Coates hasn’t yet matched production with his enormous potential. However, it is that potential that will most likely keep him around. There just aren’t many receivers with the combination of size, speed, and natural deep ball ability that Coates possesses.
He will miss a good chunk of training camp, but his spot on the roster should be safe for at least this season; it’s difficult to imagine the Steelers giving up on such a talented player with only two full years under his belt.
Pittsburgh should give the young receiver one more season to prove himself, and likely will. However, if he continues to show minimal improvement, the team will likely cut bait.