This past Sunday in the Pittsburgh Steelers road loss to the Miami Dolphins, wide receiver Sammie Coates didn’t register a single catch in the 17 plays that he was in for. In fact, of the four passes that were thrown his way, two of them were intercepted.
Coates’ infrequent use in the game against the Dolphins was due to a broken left index finger that he suffered in the Week 5 win over the New York Jets and on Thursday, Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley was asked about how that injury limited him this past Sunday.
“You’ll have to talk to him,” Haley said. “He played in the game. He didn’t get any opportunities, or many opportunities, so really it’s him, mentally, when it’s a hand with a receiver, one of his most important tools, it’s got to be him being comfortable enough. And if he says he’s OK, and we watch him and he catches the ball, then we’ve got to trust that he’s good to go.”
Haley was also asked how Coates is coming along this week in practice as the Steelers prepare to host the New England Patriots Sunday at Heinz Field with backup quarterback Landry Jones getting the start in place of the injured Ben Roethlisberger.
“He’s making progress every day,” said Haley. “I think anytime a receiver has a hand injury it’s just going to be him getting mentally over the hump. So we’ll look at the tape and he’s working hard. He’s doing a lot of it on the card-team right now, but that’s no different than last week.”
While Coates is expected to dress and play again Sunday against the Patriots, the fact that he’s been working mainly on scout team again this week figures to result in his playing time once again being infrequent. Prior to the game against the Dolphins, Coates had been the Steelers top deep threat as he has averaged 22.2 yards a reception on his 19 catches.
Also during his Thursday press conference, Haley mentioned that wide receiver Cobi Hamilton could potentially play some again on Sunday. Last week, Hamilton, who had been signed off of the team’s practice squad last Saturday, had two catches against the Dolphins. They were the first two catches of his NFL career and one of them resulted in a touchdown late in the game on a nice deep throw from Roethlisberger.
Coates, like several other players on the Steelers roster, probably can’t wait for the team’s bye week to arrive and that will begin after Sunday’s game against the Patriots. In the meantime, however, he’ll have to tough it out one more game with Hamilton and fellow wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey both picking up his slack.
The Patriots, by the way, have allowed 51 deep pass completions so far this season and that has them tied with the Buffalo Bills for the second-most allowed in the league. Hopefully, Coates can at least play the same amount off snaps that he played last week against the Dolphins and perhaps catch a deep pass or two from Jones as the Steelers will definitely need a few chunk plays Sunday if they want to have any shot at beating the Patriots.