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Steelers notebook: Coates hoping to be back at practice Wednesday

Joe Rutter
| Monday, Aug. 14, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Steelers receiver Sammie Coates working out during practice Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017, at St. Vincent.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers receiver Sammie Coates working out during practice Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017, at St. Vincent.

When Martavis Bryant returned to practice this weekend, that left one wide receiver to get on the practice field with the Steelers.

If Sammie Coates has his wish, that number will be zero Wednesday.

Coates is targeting the team's next practice — Tuesday is an off day — as when he will be activated from the physically unable to perform list.

“I hope this week, Wednesday. Who knows?” Coates said Monday afternoon. “I'm just hoping. I'm getting ready to get out there.”

Coates began training camp on the PUP list as the result of knee surgery he had during the summer. His work has been limited to running and catching passes on a field adjacent to where the Steelers are practicing. Until Sunday, Coates had Bryant by his side.

“He's working. He's getting close,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “We'll see what it looks like when we come out of the off day.”

When he returns, Coates will be among nine other wide receivers competing for six (possibly seven) roster spots.

“This is a really good group,” he said. “We've got a lot of playmakers out there. It's going to be fun to see how it turns out.”

Coates doesn't think his production in the first five weeks of 2016 (19 catches for 421 yards and two touchdowns) will be as important as what he does over the next month of preseason games.

“Last year was last year,” he said. “You have to prove yourself every year. You can't just show up and hope that counts. It doesn't work that way.”

Ready to run

James Conner reiterated his desire to play in the second preseason game, which is Sunday afternoon against the Atlanta Falcons. The rookie running back hasn't taken part in a padded practice since the first one of training camp. That could change Wednesday.

“In my mind, I want to play Sunday,” Conner said. “Come game day if I feel it (in the shoulder), I'll be smart.”

Conner practiced extensively Monday in a non-padded practice. That came on the heels of 7-on-7 work Sunday. Although his return to practice has been slow, Conner doesn't think he needs to play catchup to Fitzgerald Toussaint, Knile Davis and the other running backs getting regular work.

“I don't feel like I'm getting further behind at all,” he said. “Throughout the game and practice, I stay on (running backs) coach (James) Saxon's hip. The mental reps help tremendously. I'm good with the playbook, and I don't feel behind at all.”

Faked out

For the second time in as many years, a social media post was attributed to James Harrison stating his contempt for players who don't stand for the national anthem.

For the second year in a row, the post was from a fake account and never issued by the Steelers linebacker.

The faux post surfaced Sunday after Michael Bennett and his former Seattle teammate, Marshawn Lynch, did not stand for the anthem before their respective games.

“Anyone on my team sits for Anthem, they better be in a wheelchair,” read the post attributed to Harrison.

Trouble was, Harrison didn't write it, just like early last season when he was reported to have tweeted, “If you on my team and not standin for Anthem better be from a broken leg or I'm gonna give you one.”

Harrison used his verified Instagram account Monday to scold anyone who was fooled by the report.

“Said it last year & I'll say it again. Fact check before you go running your mouth! Just cause it's on social media don't make it true. #fakenews”

Roster move

The Steelers addressed the shortage of healthy outside linebackers by signing Austin Gearing, a converted quarterback from Miami (Ohio). Gearing, who is 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, was inserted into the rotation Monday during practice.

Because of injuries, the Steelers had only veteran Arthur Moats, rookie first-rounder T.J. Watt and first-year player Farrington Huguenin available for the preseason opener Friday against the New York Giants.

“We had to fortify the depth there,” Tomlin said.

Wide receiver Canaan Severin was waived to make room for Gearing.

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.

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