Pittsburgh Steelers: It’s time for Justin Hunter following Sammie Coates injury

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 07: Wide receiver Justin Hunter
SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 07: Wide receiver Justin Hunter /

The Pittsburgh Steelers weren’t too fond of Sammie Coates coming into training camp, and now that he’ll miss time, it’s likely someone new will take his place on the roster.

The Steelers have a history of keeping six wide receivers on the roster each season. Last year, Sammie Coates was a no brainer to make the cut, considering Pittsburgh was dealing with the loss of Martavis Bryant, and their only reliable wideouts were Antonio Brown and Eli Rogers.

This season is different. Coates hasn’t been a vital asset to this team over the last two years. For someone who the team had very high hopes for, Coates has disappointed in almost every aspect of the game.

Now, Coates will miss the beginning of training camp after undergoing a scope on his knee, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

If his roster spot wasn’t in danger before the injury, missing the final phase of the offseason is going to make Coates’ 2017 season very difficult to find playing time. If he does make the 53-man roster, which chances are he will not, he’ll be bottom of the barrel, and could find himself as nothing more than a special team guy.

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This is an excuse for Pittsburgh to give someone new a chance, though. Free agent signee, Justin Hunter, has been making highlight catch after highlight catch this summer. The 26-year-old is entering his fifth season and is yet to crack 500 yards receiving.

Hunter has never played on a team as talented as the Steelers, though. Moving from the Tennessee Titans to the Buffalo Bills and finally the Miami Dolphins for all of one game, Hunter hasn’t really had a chance to make his mark on any team since being drafted.

Not that he’s going to turn his career around in Pittsburgh, but with Ben Roethlisberger throwing to him, four receivers ahead of him that will constantly need attention from the defense, and what looks like new found confidence, Hunter could very well be a breakout player in 2017.

At 6’4, with outstanding speed and a career yards per reception of 16.7, Hunter is the perfect option for Big Ben deep. Not only does Hunter and his new quarterback loving making big plays, but both will develop a passion for the long ball once the chemistry clicks this season.

Hunter isn’t just going to take Coates’ roster spot this season, but he’s going to become the newest member of this Steelers’ receiving core. Don’t think that this will be his only year with the team because after he finds his spot in this rotation, he’ll make a lot of plays in black and yellow.

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This is a rebirth for the former Tennessee Vol star, and an excuse for the Steelers to move on from Coates. Pittsburgh doesn’t need nor wants Coates around any longer than he needs to be.

So, while he heals from yet another injury, Justin Hunter will be taking his roster spot.