Sammie Coates Seems Unlikely To Play Soon After Week One Inactive Status

Leading up to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ regular season opener against the New England Patriots, Steelers beat writer Ed Bouchette relayed in one of his chats that he was given the impression that it was rookie undrafted free agent Tyler Murphy, and not Sammie Coates, the third-round draft pick, who would serve as the number four wide receiver.

Bouchette’s intelligence proved to be on the spot, as Coates found himself without a helmet on Thursday night, affirming that he is, in fact, fifth on the wide receiver depth chart behind a player who spent his collegiate career throwing passes rather than receiving them.

While there is a certainly level of awareness with Coates that his development as a contributing wide receiver will take some time, as was the case last season with Martavis Bryant, the fact remains that the player ahead of him on the depth chart was not even a wide receiver, and in fact split time between quarterback and wide receiver during much of the offseason.

Be that as it may, we do have now a pretty good impression of how Coates’ rookie season might unfold, and the indications certainly point toward him receiving little playing time, and certainly none with any degree of consistency. In other words, he will not be given a role, as Bryant was the year before him, barring unforeseen circumstances.

Perhaps Coates finds himself in a two dogs, one bone scenario, in which he and Murphy are competing on a weekly basis—at least for these first four weeks of the season—to earn the helmet on game day, which is a tactic that has been used with positive results in the recent past for the Steelers.

Of course, when Bryant returns from suspension after the first four weeks, the Steelers will not be cutting Coates to make room for his return on the roster. The odds are that Murphy will be waived and placed on the practice squad at that point, given that he is not a notable contributor on special teams.

But it certainly gives some insight into how the rest of the third-round pick’s rookie season might unfold once Bryant returns. He is already ostensibly fifth on the depth chart, a position that will be cemented with the second-year receiver coming back onto the field.

In order for Coates to play, the Steelers would have to activate five wide receivers, which is certainly not an unlikely scenario. The team frequently had five active on game days, though the makeup of the team was naturally different that it is for this squad in 2015.

While the fact that Coates was inactive for the first game of his career—and the fact that that came at the expense of a player who was until recently a quarterback—does not speak to his rapid development, it should not be seen as a disappointment.

Nor should it be cause for concern. If it is anything, it is a demonstration on the part of the coaching staff that they are willing to be patient with him rather than forcing him into action. After the results—on the field, at least—that last year’s strategy with Bryant yielded, it would be hard to blame them.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Phil Brenneman II

    Are there other examples (looking at Murphy here) of a guy being head of another on the depth chart but being the one to be cut or waived when there is a return or addition to the roster? Obviously they aren’t going to take Coates off the roster but it does seem odd that Murphy would be the one to suffer when the Steelers view him as the current better option than Coates. Any chance they keep them all and cut somewhere else? I don’t see that happening but just curious.

  • SMF

    One more bone head blown touchdown step out of bounds or easy pass drop by DHB and Coates will get his reps sooner than later.

  • falconsaftey43

    I dont know, I think it is reason for concern. The supposed reason Coates doesnt play is he is raw. Well it doesnt get much rawer than Murphy. So either Murphy picked it up amazingly fast, or Coates is extra slow to do it. And its not like Murphy is getting a lot of play where you want a moe reliable option. Coates big play ability would seem to be more valuable for limited snaps.

    Then comes the problems when you cut Murphy. What message does that send? We dont care if you work harder and perform better, only where you were drafted? Seems like a bad message to the rest of the lockerroom.

  • Stuck in Ravens country

    If Tyler Murphy can improve enough to keep a spot as a WR and if he has shown enough too at QB then would that open up the possibility of having Murphy as the #3 allowing the team to open up a spot by letting go of Laundry Jones? I realize that the Steelers have spent a lot of time and commitment on Jones making them less likely to letting him go but if Tyler can show he can do both then that will help us not risk losing people that have a potential for a huge upside (e.g. Chickillo).

  • francesco

    So far I have been impressed by Tyler Murphy more so than Coates…as a matter of fact I wish they could use him for kick offs and punt returns…just get rid of Archer!!!?

  • John Pennington

    Until Coates learns how to finish plays and stop quitting on plays he will continue to sit.And I think this is a good thing for him .This isn’t college anymore and nothing is given its earned and until he learns that and get in better shape and take this game more serious have fun watching from the side line.He did this to himself.

  • Steve

    Will take one WR to get hurt before Coates gets a hat. Coach Mann is a stickler on the basics and apparently he has not made the effort. Nothing is give in this life, you must work for it.

  • dano

    Barring injury Coates will barely play, if at all, this year. His situation may be similar to Bryant but also much different, especially given the fact Bryant is here. He seems even rawer than him so might as well let him learn and not cause problems on the field, which can hurt the team and hurt his development (Sweed!!)

  • Chuck Meyer

    Tyler has learned six offenses in six years, he was a “SEC All Academic” at UF graduating in 3.5 years.Worked with Urban Meyer, Danny Mullen the architects of the spread offense then Charlie Wies/Muschamp to a Pro Set Offense and then back to Steve Addazzio for an offense tailored to his skill set with little to no talent at receiver at BC so they went Read Option positioning Tyler to brake Doug Flute’s 4 year BC rushing record in 9 games while going on to set the all time QB rushing record in the ACC. What Tomlin and the QB,s like in Tyler is his ability to do what Wes Welker and now Julian Edelman and previously Hines Ward did. They read defenses in sync with the play calling. Make no mistake Tyler Murphy is as smart as it gets in football as well as being brilliant open field runner..just ask USC about his 191 yards against a defense designed to stop him.

    Sammy Coates is a speed talent period. You already have speed now you need first downs and scoring…Tyler Murphy in the Red Zone playing in sync may be the answer.