If you were searching for some optimism about third-year wide receiver Sammie Coates heading into the 2017 season, beat writer Dale Lolley provided a cold bucket of water for you yesterday afternoon on Twitter, reporting that the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver’s fingers looked like they were “mangled like a lineman” and quipped that it’s “probably not good” for a wide receiver.
Saw Sammie Coates fingers yesterday. Mangled like a lineman. Probably not good for a WR. #Steelers
— Dale Lolley (@dlolleyor) February 19, 2017
You might recall that several weeks back we were given to believe that the former third-round pick had surgery to repair multiple broken fingers on his hand. Coates last week revealed on his own on Twitter that the surgery that he underwent was to repair a groin injury.
Melanie Friedlander asked Lolley subsequently if Coates’ fingers looked like that because he has surgery, and Lolley confirmed in the negative, so we now have visual verification that he indeed has not had his broken fingers repaired.
Friedlander followed up saying that Coates should have had surgery during the season when he injured the hand and went on injured reserve, and I would tend to agree with our own resident doctor. After all, the post-injury results pretty clearly speak for themselves.
Coates caught two passes for the Steelers in the season opener, including a 42-yarder, for 56 total yards. The next game he added receptions of 44 and 53 yards for a total of 97 on two receptions. After a three-catch, 50-yard effort that featured a 41-yard reception, he caught six passes for 79 yards, the longest being 47.
In his final game as a meaningful contributor, he went off for 139 yards, including a 72-yard touchdown, the first score of his career. He added another short score on his six catches, some of which came after he injured his hand and broke two fingers in the process.
But he was getting by on adrenalin at that point—and he did drop multiple passes early in the second half before beginning to rebound—and he finished up the regular season with just two more catches in the final nine games for 14 yards. He sat out the last two games of the regular season with a hamstring injury.
He did get an opportunity to play a bigger role in the AFC Championship game, but his first opportunity to contribute consisted of a dropped pass on a long ball on third and short that had the potential to go for a long score. He did haul in a 30-yard pass in the second half and had 34 yards total on two receptions.
It is a mystery to many why Coates has not, at least yet, had his fingers surgically repaired. Whether he needs surgery or can use the offseason to allow them to get better on their own by actually resting them, it is imperative that he gets back to what he was doing in the early portion of his second season.