The Martavis Bryant suspension has left people wondering who will take up the role of playing opposite of star receiver Antonio Brown.
Martavis Bryant supplied the Pittsburgh Steelers offense with a perfect complement to Antonio Brown. His freakish speed along with his tall frame made him one of the most dangerous threats in the league, and already surrounded by a unit of great players, the Steelers offense was looking to make some serious damage this upcoming season.
The excitement was brought to a sudden halt when the announcement of Bryant’s suspension hit the public. Immediately, the unstoppable offense that fans expected to see on the field had a crack in it.
The first thought was that the Steelers may address the issue in the offseason either through free agency or the draft. While that’s definitely still an option, it seems they may have enough confidence in the current players on their roster heading into the new season.
The first sign of this confidence was when they re-signed Darrius Heyward-Bey. Heyward-Bey wasn’t a major part of the Steelers’ offense last season, but proved to be valuable and reliable at times throughout the season.
While it’s likely that Heyward-Bey will hold the fourth wide receiver position on the depth chart, the real question is who will hold the spot opposite of Antonio Brown. The two obvious candidates are the speedy Markus Wheaton, and Sammie Coates, entering his sophomore season.
Wheaton received a lot of praise from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger last season in the wake of Bryant’s last suspension. While he wasn’t spectacular early on, Wheaton caught fire later in the season as a player capable of making big plays in any game at any moment. He continuously flew under the radar throughout the season as a steady option for Pittsburgh with the capability to be brilliant at times.
Up until a few days ago, Wheaton seemed like the more plausible option. Recently, Sammie Coates has been receiving plenty of praise from Tomlin and various players, and Tomlin has also stated that the spot is open game for anyone.
As of now, Coates hasn’t played much, and is no one really knows what to expect from him. It’s definitely a good sign that he’s got the support of teammates and coaches, but lack of proof might leave some wondering.
Coates is very similar to Bryant in many ways, so it would make plenty of sense for him to fill in for the suspended receiver. Standing at 6’2″ with plenty of speed of his own, some believed that Coates was drafted as a fill in for Bryant speculating that Pittsburgh foresaw his first suspension.
That speculation was somewhat put to rest when Coates received very little playing time throughout Bryant’s suspension last season. The only time that we saw a bit of Coates was during the playoff game against the Broncos where he stepped up to the plate with Brown recovering from a concussion.
Coates was by no means sensational, but did show capability to creating big plays with a couple big catches.
Both receivers have plenty of upside, but only one can earn the spot. Right now, it’s anyone’s game. It’ll come down to who performs in the Steelers’ training camp this offseason and during the preseason. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for the Steelers to make a decision.
Who do you think is going to work opposite of Brown, Steeler Nation?