With Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant out for the entire 2016 season due to a suspension, the team is hoping that second-year Auburn product Sammie Coates can be one of several players who can help the offense overcome his loss. Coates, who was drafted by the Steelers in the third round last year, was asked about that chore of replacing Bryant earlier in the week during an interview that was aired on Steelers Nation Radio.
“For Martavis, he’s a great player, you can’t replace talent like that,” Coates said. “But you’ve got people on our team, we’ve got great wide receivers, you got guys who can step in and help fill that void. He’s a great player. We can’t replace somebody that’s a great player. In this league, everybody’s great, so you miss one guy, somebody else has got to step in and be great for him.”
So far through the team’s first four training camp practices, Coates has made his share of plays with his hands, however, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has noticed that the young wide receiver is more than just a pass catcher on offense.”
“He’s a very physical guy,” said Roethlisberger, according to a Tuesday report by Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated. “And we’re gonna ask him to [be physical]. We’re gonna ask him to do some blocking stuff. We’re gonna ask him to stick his nose in there and do some of the things we’d expect a guy of his size and caliber to do.”
Coates, who really didn’t receive much playing time last year on offense until the playoff game against the Denver Broncos, learned during his rookie season that his level of conditioning wasn’t where it needed to be. He says that he attacked that head-on during the offseason and even lost 5 or 6 pounds in the process.
“You’ve got to be in great shape to be a wide receiver here and that’s what I learned over my progress of becoming a wide receiver here,” Coates said.
Coates said he also learned one other very important thing during his first season in the league.
“You always got to keep your eye on the quarterback,” Coates said “You never know what the situation is, you always got to be locked in. That’s one thing that I had to learn through my progress of becoming a great wide receiver. You’ve always got to be paying attention to what’s going on and seeing the defense and seeing the quarterback.”
As previously mentioned, Coates finally saw extended playing time in the Divisional Round playoff game against the Broncos as he was asked to help replace starting wide receiver Antonio Brown, who missed that contest with a concussion. Coates responded in that game with a couple of a big catches. The confidence that he appears to have now, however, isn’t a result of him having a coming out party of sorts against the Broncos.
“My confidence came through just being on the show team, it didn’t come from that playoff game,” Coates said. “My confidence came from just working hard every day and just wanted to push me to keep going when I was tired. That’s when my confidence came, I built over time.”
Time will now tell just how much Coates can contribute to the Steelers offense in 2016, but rest assured, he’s ready to play anywhere on the field and run whatever routes he’s asked.
“Whatever they need me to do, I’m going to do it,” Coates said. “I don’t care. Short routes, long routes, I’m just showing them I’m in great shape.”
Coates also has goals for the upcoming season and none of them are related to stats.
“To do well with the team, whatever I can for the team to help win and that’s my goal to help my teammates, to help my wide receiver brothers, to help my defense like making big plays to keep them off the field and stuff like that,” said Coates.