The Steelers might be down to three healthy receivers for the game Sunday in Miami. Markus Wheaton will miss the game with a shoulder injury, and Sammie Coates, who has emerged in recent weeks as the No. 2 receiver opposite Antonio Brown, is questionable with a hand injury.
If Coates cannot play, the Steelers will sign Cobi Hamilton from their practice squad to the active roster to give them four healthy receivers on the game day roster.
Coates, who returned to practice Friday on a limited basis, has experienced some swelling with his hand, but he said that’s to be expected because the cut hasn’t completely healed.
Coates cut his hand during last week’s game against the Jets. Even though he dropped several passes he finished with six receptions for 139 yards and two touchdowns.
“I don’t know yet,” said Coates, when asked about his availability for the game Sunday in Miami. “We’re going to talk about it and see how it goes. We’ll see tomorrow what they say.”
Doctors stitched the wound during the game and re-stitched it with seven new ones Monday. He sat out practice Wednesday and Thursday to allow the wound to heal.
Coates is the Steelers’ second-leading receiver with 19 receptions for 421 yards and two touchdowns. If he is inactive Sunday, the Steelers will have Brown, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Eli Rogers, who is coming back from a turf toe injury, as the top three receivers against the Dolphins.
Hamilton, a sixth-round pick of the Bengals in 2013, has bounced around on four other practice squads and offseason rosters over the past three seasons. The Steelers signed him in the middle of training camp.
“We believe in all the guys that are out here,” offensive coordinator Todd Haley said. “We really do. I think that’s what gives us a chance despite having a lot of moving parts at times over the last few years, this year included. I think the guys see it up close and personal.
“B.J. Finney was on the practice squad, now he’s out there, and he started for us in a big game, and Chris Hubbard. Eli Rogers sat all last year, injured, but he would have been a practice squad type of guy. When they see guys that are very much like themselves, if you are talking about a practice squad guy, and then you get called up and step in, and give us a chance to win, I think it sells more than any of the talk we do.”
The Steelers will be without three other starters and two reserves against the Dolphins. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert will miss a second consecutive game with an ankle injury. Ryan Shazier will miss a third consecutive game with a knee injury, and Cam Heyward will miss with a hamstring injury.
Reserve safety Shamarko Thomas (groin) and reserve offensive lineman Cody Wallace (knee) also will miss the game.