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Coates: 'You gotta play fast and stay fast the whole game'

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LATROBE, Pa. - The athletic catch rookie wide receiver Sammie Coates made along the sideline in Jacksonville offered a glimpse of his ability and potential.

Also revealed during Coates' first two NFL preseason games has been the level of conditioning required to do more than flash that potential.

"He's gotta get in better condition," head coach Mike Tomlin assessed after last week's 23-21 preseason loss to the Jaguars. "Fatigue was a factor, like it is with a lot of young guys. Hel's gotta get better in that regard."

Coates was already aware the speed in the NFL game, even in the preseason, is like nothing he'd seen previously.

When asked what had stood out about his first such encounter on Aug. 9 against Minnesota, Coates' response was "a lot of fast running, you gotta run a lot."

In the wake of the Jacksonville game his opinion hadn't changed.

"You always have to be moving fast no matter what the situation is," Coates said. "That's one thing you gotta learn and that's one thing we're doing in camp, getting in better shape and just getting the reps.

"You gotta work your tail off every day to be in game-ready shape. It's kind of hard to do because you can never simulate a game, how you'll be moving and how everything's going at speed."

Coates is determined to keep working on and honing that aspect of his game.

"You gotta play fast and stay fast the whole game," he said. "You can't have moments where you're just tired and you let them get an edge over you.

The Pittsburgh Steelers participated in their second to last training camp practice.

"You know it's part of the game. You're going to get tired but you have to fight through it and keep moving fast. You gotta play when you're tired and you gotta be fast the whole time."

Coates has been targeted 15 times and caught six of those passes through his first two preseason games.

"I think the more in shape he gets in terms of NFL-wide receiver shape, the more we're going to see his skill set, like that sideline catch," in Jacksonville, Tomlin said. "Until he does, it's going to be up and down.

"That's not only or him, that's for all of them. That's' why we say physical conditioning precedes anything else, particularly at the wide receiver position on Sunday ball, it's critical."

As Coates works toward that end, he'll continue to follow wide receiver Antonio Brown's example.

"You don't have to talk to him, you just watch him," Coates said. "It shows in his game, it shows in practice, it shows how he plays. He practices like he plays in the game.

"That's every day for him and that's one thing the rookies have to learn. You gotta watch the older guys that have been doing it. They showcase how they condition every day."

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