As training camp rolls around, the Steelers go to Saint Vincent College with a lot of receivers. Not only do they have quantity, but also quality players in that position. They’ll be a very interesting group to watch during camp, how it plays out there as we go into the season. Expect a lot of great battles during camp and push guys to grow. With Darrius Heyward-Bey, Justin Hunter, Demarcus Ayers, Sammie Coates, Cobi Hamilton, and maybe a few others rounding out the receivers group, there is going to be tough cuts. The player with the best ability on special teams will make the final spot or two.
News broke today that Coates got a scope done and will miss some of camp. That already puts him behind the eight ball. His entire career as a Steeler has been injuries, and when he isn’t injured, his past injuries affect his play. He still has a catching issue which will need to be shown as fixed during camp. Coates could be a surprise cut if he doesn’t play much this camp and preseason. If he can stay healthy and learn to catch the ball more consistently, he could develop into a solid player.
Players that’ll be lower on the depth chart like Ayers, DHB, Hunter, and Hamilton, will fight for one or maybe two spots max on the final roster. There’s a lot to like about Ayers and what he showed and could provide special teams ability if needed. DHB has made his special teams play known around the league and continues to show his speed on offense. Hunter and Hamilton are similar. They both have size and can make contributions on offense, but you could question if either could be talented enough to make this roster. Popular expectations is for DHB to make this roster and Ayers could make it as well. If he doesn’t make the final roster, then hopefully he will be picked up on the practice squad.
The starters are all locks and so is JuJu Smith-Schuster. It’s a waste of time talking about Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant as your one-two punch. Eli Rogers is coming off of a solid season as well, so that’s four making your final 53. But the question is which is going to start in the slot for you? It’ll be a good battle between Rogers and JuJu. Rogers showed good promise last year and looks to be a speed slot receiver, where JuJu shows to be a strong possession receiver. No matter who wins, the 4th receiver will get a lot of snaps. Expect a lot of four-receiver sets.
The biggest question is if the Steelers want to keep five or six receivers on the final roster. Maybe they keep seven if someone blows them away on special teams. It’ll be exciting to watch this battle, and expectations are most, if not all of these guys, will have jobs during this season. No matter if it’s with the Steelers or not. Either way, feeling confident in the depth at receiver is a understatement. It’ll be interesting in how it checks out through this year’s competition.
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