Over the course of the first five games of the season, second-year Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Sammie Coates reeled in 19 receptions for 421 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 22.2 yards per reception in what was beginning to look like a breakout year of sorts, filling a void that the team had due to injuries and suspensions at the wide receiver position.
Over the course of the last two games, Coates has one reception for four yards on six targets, including an offensive pass interference penalty and an interception on passes thrown in this direction. Yesterday, he did not even see a target in the game until within the last four plays of the game.
As I wrote about before the game yesterday, Coates is facing a major hurdle when it comes to dealing with pain management, and we have obviously seen that playing a role and taking its toll, not just on his own performance, but on the offense as a whole without his unique contributions as the player primarily tasked with keeping the defense honest vertically.
But we have also seen that the issue is seemingly beyond pain management, as in both of the past two games, it seems, Coates has been forced out of action after his exertion in the game aggravated the laceration, swelling, and fractured finger on his hand that is causing him to struggle so much to be productive over the course of the past two weeks.
In other words, it’s a damn good thing that the Steelers have a bye week after this game, and not just because Antonio Brown took a knee to the thigh. Actually, Pittsburgh has any number of injured players—not to mention, oh, say, their franchise quarterback—who are trying to work their way back from injuries, including some guys not on the 53-man roster at the moment.
Coates has only been able to see the field on offense for around a couple dozen snaps between yesterday’s game and last week’s game, and when he has been on the field, he has not really been able to put himself in a position to be a positive contributor.
At this point, it would seem to be wise to take the course of action of letting him sit for a while if rest would mean that the fractured finger would become easier to deal with, because at the moment he is not in a position to help the offense.
Right now, it only seems as though he is setting himself back by trying to give it a go each week and tough out the pain factor, only to reinjure his hand and potentially make the situation worse, which is not helping anybody.
On the bright side, his replacement on the roster, Cobi Hamilton, has seemed to be doing a pretty solid job over the course of the past two games in relatively limited action. If he continues to do well, then maybe the Steelers could afford to let Coates rest his hand.