The Pittsburgh Steelers will release their first injury report for Week 2 of the 2016 regular season on Wednesday and at that time we’ll be able to see if wide receiver Markus Wheaton is heading in the right direction as it relates to him possibly being healthy enough to play in Sunday’s home opener against the Cincinnati Bengals. Should the fourth-year wide receiver out of Oregon State wind up being ready to go by Sunday, the Steelers coaching staff will then need to decide whether or not they want to dress five wide receivers for the game.
Thanks to the emergence of second-year wide receiver Eli Rogers and the special teams abilities of veteran wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, it’s pretty much a forgone conclusion that both will receive helmets along with fellow wide receiver Antonio Brown against the Bengals. Should, however, the Steelers decide that they only need four total wide receivers in uniform Sunday against the Bengals, the coaching staff will more than likely have to decide who to dress as their fourth between Wheaton and second-year wide receiver Sammie Coates.
While Coates did register two catches for 56 yards in Monday night’s opener against the Redskins, he did drop one screen pass during the game. Additionally, Coates had another pass that was originally intended for him in the end zone bounce off of either him or Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland and into the hands of Rogers for a touchdown.
Wheaton and Coates have similar skill sets as both can play inside and outside in the Steelers offense. However, with Wheaton being the more experienced of the two, one would think that if healthy come Sunday, the Steelers coaching staff could ultimately choose to dress him over Coates against the Bengals should a decision such as that wind up being warranted.
While a lot was expected out of Coates in 2016, his play during the preseason was very uneven and it included him dropping a few passes in addition to fumbling twice. Wheaton, on the other hand, missed extensive practice and playing time during training camp and the preseason due to injuries and thus could be a little bit behind when it comes to him possibly not being on the same page with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
This week during the Steelers three team practices, we could have a situation of two dogs fighting over one bone with Wheaton and Coates both battling to see which of the two gets a helmet Sunday against the Bengals. Should, however, Wheaton wind up being unable to practice over the course of the next three days, or even not practice fully on any of the days, then Coates would obviously likely dress once again in Week 2.
How do you think this will ultimately play out if Wheaton is healthy enough to play on Sunday? Will the Steelers decide to sit either him or Coates, or will both players wind up dressing against the Bengals? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.