Pittsburgh Steelers third-round rookie receiver Sammie Coates just finished his first two days of offseason team activities -- he missed Thursday’s session while flying to Los Angeles for NFL Rookie Premiere -- and so far the results are positive.
Steelers team policy is not to disclose details from practices unless confirmed from players or coaches, but two offensive players commented generally about Coates’ ability.
It stands out.
Right tackle Marcus Gilbert said that although it’s early in offseason workouts to characterize a young receiver’s route-running precision, he did notice that Coates is a finisher. “He looks like he knows how to finish a play with strength, especially in the middle of the field,” Gilbert said. “That’s something I noticed.”
Coates was a deep-ball finisher at Auburn, averaging 20-plus yards per catch during his junior season. One label attached to Coates during the draft process was that he drops passes. But fellow Steelers receiver Markus Wheaton said Coates has been catching the ball “great” this week.
“He looks good,” Wheaton said. “Obviously as a rookie, he has a lot to learn. But physically, he’s where he needs to be.”
Like most rookies, Coates needs to sharpen his attention to detail with routes and pre-snap reads, Wheaton told pennlive.com. At 6-foot-1, 212 pounds with a 41-inch vertical and 4.4 speed, Coates will always look good in shorts. Everyone knows he can go deep. He can become a matchup nightmare for cornerbacks with his speed/size combo downfield.
The key for Coates will be grasping the nuances of a Steelers offense that, under coordinator Todd Haley, relies heavily on short-to-intermediate passes. The Steelers will give Coates time to master this. With Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Wheaton ahead of him on the early depth chart, Coates can ease into his role and hope to provide a spark at some point in his rookie season.