When Antonio Brown missed last season’s playoff loss to the Broncos, the Steelers gave Sammie Coates playing time and he responded with two catches for 61 yards.
That was twice as many catches as Coates made during a regular season that saw Coates play sparingly after arriving to the team in lackluster condition. Things are different this summer, though.
Offensive coordinator Todd Haley said, via Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports, that the difference in the receiver is “night and day” heading into his second NFL season. Haley said Coates “got his mind right” along with his conditioning over the course of the 2015 season and that working with the scout team benefitted him.
“I don’t think you could’ve asked for a better scenario for him,” Haley said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Everybody has something dirty about their job, and he had a dirty job running the ‘show’ team every day and got his butt beat up by the first-team defense.”
All of that leaves Coates in position to nab a role in the offense this year. Martavis Bryant’s suspension opens up snaps at receiver with Brown and Markus Wheaton that Coates has been taking during early training camp practices. If all continues on the same path, we should get to see a lot more of Coates this year than we did when he was a rookie.