Even though Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Sammie Coates failed to register a catch in the team’s Thursday night win over the Indianapolis Colts, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger thinks the former third-round draft pick out of Auburn is making strides in his attempt to finally overcome his deep pass catching drought that he’s been going through since breaking two fingers way back in Week 5.
“I thought Sammie Coates is really starting to come back to us on offense,” Roethlisberger said Tuesday during his weekly interview on 93.7 The Fan. “He’s been awesome the last probably month or two on special teams, but what he’s done this last week on really stretching it out, I honestly probably could have made two better throws on the two go-balls for him. We have a rule with him, we had it with Martavis [Bryant] and even Darrius Heyward-Bey, never underthrow him. Like literally, try and overthrow him because they’re so fast and I didn’t do it on the two occasions.”
If it’s any consolation, Coates did play 10 offensive snaps against the Colts which is more than triple the amount of snaps that he played combined in the Steelers two previous games against the Cleveland Browns and Dallas Cowboys, though five of them came on the final five snaps of the game after some of the starters left. With that said, he’s still only managed to catch one pass for 4 yards since Week 5 and the Steelers offense has certainly missed his big-play production in the meantime.
As noted in a previous post following the Steelers Thursday night game, while it was evident that Roethlisberger underthrew Coates on the two deep targets, it would have been nice to see the young wide receiver battle for the football a little more than he did.
During his Tuesday press conference, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked if Coates is now at a level where he can resume the level of activity that he had before he broke his fingers.
“You know, I like to think that he is,” Tomlin said. “We’ll let practice participation and effectiveness be our guide in that area. And like I’ve said repeatedly over the time that he’s dealt with his circumstance, I appreciate his contributions in other areas. His special teams performance has been really solid in the midst of him dealing with some of the things that he’s dealt with from a hand injury standpoint.”
The Steelers will host the New York Giants on Sunday and their defense has given up 37 deep pass completions so far this season. While Coates still might be on pitch-count of sorts against the Giants, it’s easy to speculate that Roethlisberger will once again attempt to target him deep a few times during the game and hopefully this time he doesn’t underthrow him.
“I just thought that he’s really starting to come back on offense and I challenged him in the locker room before the game on that,” Roethlisberger said Tuesday. “I said, ‘Hey you’re doing awesome on special teams, but now it’s time for you to come back to us on offense because we’re going to need you.’ And I could see that sparkle in his eye and even after the game he said to me, ‘Ben, I know I need to make this play for you, but I’m going to come back for you, trust me.’ So, those things all add up for me, like growth and I really think something good in the future.”
Will that good in the future be as soon as Sunday at Heinz Field against the Giants? We’ll see.