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Sammie Coates, Senquez Golson show glimpses of Steelers' SEC speed

PITTSBURGH -- The first day of rookie minicamp is relatively light. Players around the league work out without pads, go through special-teams and individual position drills, maybe some light seven-on-seven or 11-on-11 work.

But there was enough movement Friday to notice the bursts provided by two of the Steelers' top three picks in last week's draft, Auburn receiver Sammie Coates and corner Senquez Golson. Quick first steps are evident with both players. (Steelers prohibit writing about details from practices that aren't open to fans, which Friday's session wasn't).

Ohio State's Doran Grant has burst, too, but he's known as more of a tough, physical player than a burner. First-round linebacker Bud Dupree, also from the SEC, missed the workout session while preparing for the University of Kentucky graduation ceremony on Saturday.

Coates and Golson ran the 40-yard dash in the low to mid-4.4s during the pre-draft process, which is capable speed but not considered elite. More importantly, though, the Steelers want on-field speed, enough to keep opponents on edge. Coates says this is coming every day at the team's practice facility.

"I'm probably a 4.2, 4.3 [on field]," Coates said. "I play way faster."

Coates and Golson battled it out in the SEC West every year. SEC players love to talk about "SEC speed," a term of endearment in the South and a head-shaker in the Big Ten or Pac-12, where players feel they are just as fast.

Coates looks forward to reuniting with Golson and making each other better. Golson didn't cover Coates exclusively at Ole Miss -- Coates was largely a deep threat while often Golson did his damage inside, in space -- but Coates got the advantage with five catches for 122 yards and a touchdown in a 35-31 Auburn win last year.

Golson got an interception against the Tigers, one of his 10 on the season. Coates noticed that every time he played Ole Miss, Golson was always looking to counter if Coates or an Auburn teammate made a big play. "I ran one, he ran one," he said.

"He's a great player, a great person to work with," Coates said. "We're still going at it."

The two might not battle much in Pittsburgh since the 6-foot-2 Coates is a pure outside receiver and Golson, at 5-9, could be best utilized in the nickel, though he can play outside, too. Golson said the nickel allows him to roam more, utilizing his instincts and playmaking, which is why the Steelers drafted him. Give him clear vision lanes to make plays on the ball.

Both players are battling stigmas from the draft process -- Golson's height, and Coates' drops.

"I answer them by how I play," Golson said. "I pretty much silence them the same way, making plays on bigger receivers."

ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. was quick to point out during last week's draft broadcast that Coates has first-round ability but his 9.8 percent drop rate hurt him in the process. Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said Coates has good hands, and his 21.6 yards-per-catch average isn't a bad thing, either.

A few drops won't sway Coates from believing he's a "great player."

"There isn’t anyting I can’t catch," Coates said. "It’s just sometimes I tend to run with the field. I’ve gotten better and I’m working at it every day."

Speed can mask problems, and these two players aren't lacking for it.