Since Week 5, we’ve seen Pittsburgh Steelers second-year wide receiver Sammie Coates catch just one pass for 4 yards. Additionally, in Sunday’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys, Coates played a season-low two offensive snaps. During his Tuesday press conference, head coach Mike Tomlin finally set the record straight as to why Coates played so few snaps this past Sunday in addition to why his receiving production has dropped to almost zero.
“Sammie’s most recent issue is the broken fingers on his hand,” said Tomlin. “That limits him in some of the things he’s able to do at wide receiver. It doesn’t limit him in terms of some of the things that he’s able to do in special teams and he’s done a good job of covering kicks and punts for us, and he’s doing a great job of continuing to work. But it has stymied some of his offensive growth and development. And so, when you talk about two snaps, you’re probably talking about offensive contributions. I don’t think that his special teams contributions were limited in any way due to those circumstances.”
Notice that Tomlin said broken fingers. It has long been believed, at least by me, that Coates only suffered one broken finger on his left hand. Regardless of how many fingers he broke, the hand injury is playing a role in his loss of playing time on offense and his lack of receiving production.
Will Coates be able to get his finger or fingers right be the end of the season? Will he ultimately need surgery to fix his hand? I don’t know. For now, however, I guess we can probably expect to see him playing a lot on special teams and not so much on offense.
With fellow Steelers wide receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey and Markus Wheaton both currently dealing with injuries of their own, we can probably expect to continue to see a lot more of wide receiver Cobi Hamilton starting Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. In the loss to the Cowboys, Hamilton, who started the regular season on the Steelers practice squad, played 92% of all offensive snaps. With that said, he only caught one pass in that game for 39 yards.
At least Steelers tight end Ladarius Green was able to make his 2016 debut against the Cowboys and while he was only on the field for 12 offensive plays, one would think that his role will start increasing moving forward.
Excuse the pun, but keep your fingers crossed that Coates can get his fingers right very soon as the Steelers offense certainly misses the big-play ability that he exhibited in the team’s first five games of the season.