I have to admit, it is going to be weird to see Sammie Coates in a Cleveland Browns uniform. Perhaps even weirder than seeing Joe Haden in a Pittsburgh Steelers uniform. Now, if they have to go up one-on-one against one another, that will be peak weirdness.
Suddenly finding himself at the bottom of the roster for the Steelers, Coates is now in somewhat of a similar position with Cleveland as he was in Pittsburgh a year ago, assuming that the Browns have been able to get him up to speed in time to be a major contributor from the get go.
The former third-round pick would seem to be in good position to see a lot of playing time as the third wide receiver alongside Corey Coleman, their first-round pick from a year ago, and Kenny Britt, whom they brought in via free agency in order to replace Terrelle Pryor. So it wouldn’t be surprising if he sees a lot of snaps today.
And I’m sure he will be extra motivated to play and to succeed going up against his former team, who did not value him enough to hang on to him and to trade him away for what is admittedly fairly minimal value, trading him and a seventh-round pick for a sixth-round pick.
Of course, he kind of had two seasons a year ago. During the first five games, he did very well, gaining over 400 yards with a pair of touchdowns, reeling in a number of explosive plays over 40 yards, and generally on an ascending trajectory.
But it all came crashing down after he fractured two of his fingers in that fifth game in a story that we all know too well at this point. He was not the same after the injury, though it must be pointed out that his playing time on offense from then on was sparse at best, and the majority of his targets were low-percentage throws. He had the deepest depth of target in the entire league last year.
Coates admitted at after a certain point his struggles became as much mental as physical, but he believes that he is a better and stronger person this year for what he had to go through. He recently told reporters in Cleveland that he feels “a thousand times” stronger mentally than he did a year ago.
That, combined with a fresh change of scenery could prove to do him well, especially after much of the Steelers fan base had already soured on him. It didn’t help that he had two offseason surgeries—neither on his hand—and started training camp on the PUP List.
His story of redemption begins this afternoon, and it’s fitting that it comes against the Steelers. While I would ultimately like to see him succeed, however, I am hoping that his journey back gets off to a rocky start.