In a rare late week media appearance, Mike Tomlin recognized the loss of Antonio Brown but in true fashion, isn’t letting it distract him.
“We’ve been without people before. That’s just the nature of this thing,” Tomlin said in a video posted to Steelers.com today. “Every now and then I walked past the trainers room and I see Maurkice Pouncey sitting in there or see Le’Veon Bell sitting in there, it reminds us where we are and what this thing is about. And why this is the ultimate team game. And this week will be no different from that perspective.”
The Pittsburgh Steelers will call on Darrius Heyward-Bey and Sammie Coates to fill the void in depth chart, though neither can come close in skillset.
“I’m excited to watch them adjust, adapt, and watch the plays come from other places.”
Heyward-Bey will be elevated to the #3 spot and could get used on early downs and other obvious run situations given that he is by far the team’s best run blocking wide receiver. He’s caught just 21 passes this season but has shown his speed that made him a first round pick, highlighted most recently by a 66 yard grab in Week 17 against the Cleveland Browns.
Coates has gotten a lot of talk, though it’s important to realize he’s still going to function as the #4 WR in a playoff game on the road. That doesn’t lend itself to a lot of immediate playing time for a rookie and my guess is he doesn’t even cross the ten snap threshold.
Tomlin echoed a similar statement.
“He’s a hard working guy. I’m not going to pretend like Coates it the reason why we’re going to have a good day. If he gets an opportunity to contribute good for him, and we’ll expect him to do it in a positive way.”