In the Pittsburgh Steelers Week 15 over the Cincinnati Bengals, wide receiver Sammie Coates caught one pass for 10 yards late in the first half. That, by the way, was Coates’ first reception since the Week 7 game against the New England Patriots. Additionally, Coates played 40% of the team’s offensive snaps against the Bengals and that’s something that hasn’t happened since Week 9.
During his weekly chat with Bob Labriola on Steelers Nation Radio, Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley was asked if he felt Coates took a step forward Sunday in the team’s win over the Bengals.
“Yeah, I think in the game he had a catch and he played 30 or so snaps which means he had a good practice week and I think he’s starting to get some confidence back and Ben’s starting to gain confidence in him, and it’s just a process,” Haley said. “It’s been a long way back for him but we need him. I’ve said that a number of times, we need him down the stretch and we need him to make some big plays and big plays don’t always have to be 40, 50 yarders, they can be big plays in critical situations. So, he’s making progress.”
Coates, who suffered two broken fingers on the same hand way back in Week 5, has been targeted a total of 18 times since that injury took place with most of the throws going his way being deep ones. His two catches during that span have totaled 14 total yards. The 2015 third-round draft pick did, however, return a kickoff 44 yards against the Bengals and that’d the longest one the Steelers have had since 2013.
Now that Coates is starting to see the field on offense again on a regular basis, his next step is to start hauling in a few of the deep passes thrown to him by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. While Haley said Tuesday that big plays made by Coates don’t necessarily need to be 40 yards or longer, they certainly don’t hurt and the Auburn product showed that skillset earlier in the season.
This coming Sunday at Heinz Field the Steelers will host a Baltimore Ravens team that figures to be without their best cornerback, Jimmy Smith. If that winds up being the case, Coates will likely be matched up against either Shareece Wright or Tavon Young whenever he’s on the field. Wright, by the way, has surrendered six touchdowns this season including five in a three-game span.
During the Steelers’ last meeting against the Ravens back in early November, Coates was targeted five times during the game and failed to catch a single pass from Roethlisberger. One of those failed connections was a drop in the end zone with 4:09 left in the game with the Steelers trailing 21-7 at the time. In short, it would be nice to see Coates rebound against the Ravens on Sunday in Pittsburgh.