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2016 South Side Questions: How Will Coates Impact Ravens Game?

The regular season is here, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are taking their practices at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the real work is now upon us, there is plenty left to be done.

And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they wade through a regular season in which they are, at least supposed to be, among the favorites to win the Super Bowl.

Question: How big a role—and impact—will Sammie Coates have on the Steelers’ game against the Ravens?

Sunday’s game will be the fourth times that Steelers second-year wide receiver Sammie Coates will be going up against the Ravens. He hasn’t caught a pass in the last two games—of course—in one of them, he saw zero snaps. His lone reception during his rookie season came against Baltimore in Week Four, however, for 11 yards.

In their previous meeting earlier this year, Coates was dealing with a “busted hand”, as he put it—something that he is still dealing with, of course. But that game, the first after their bye week, was the second time the Steelers tried to work him back into the offense since his injury. He played 45 snaps in the game, about two thirds of the total, but he failed to come up with a reception on five targets.

One of those targets, late in the fourth quarter, should have gone for a long touchdown, but Coates was unable to hang on to it in the end zone, with the target going down as a drop. That would have made it a one-possession game with four minutes to play, but instead the offense ending up turning the ball over on downs.

This time around, the Steelers may need him to have a much bigger impact on the game—a positive impact that is—in order for them to beat the Ravens, to whom they have lost four consecutive games going back to the 2014 postseason.

The team is dealing with some key injuries on both sides of the ball that may limit their effectiveness, in which event it usually means that they need to get an extra boost from an unexpected source—such as a contribution from Coates, who has two receptions for 14 yards and two carries for nine yards since Week Five.

Keep in mind, that could even come on kickoffs. He had a 43-yard kick return on Sunday against the Bengals that set up the offense with good starting field position. More of that would certainly be welcome against the Ravens.

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