Hunter wasn't expected to be anything more than a depth option in the receiving corps if active, so the coach's decision to leave him inactive shouldn't have much fantasy implication. His next chance to play will be in Week 2 against the Vikings.
Hunter caught three of six targets for 75 yards and a touchdown in Thursday's preseason finale against Carolina.
Hunter's 58-yard touchdown might be the final blow for Sammie Coates, who failed to haul in his only target on the night. Hunter and Coates were believed to be competing for one spot at the bottom of the depth chart, with the winner perhaps getting occasional snaps to provide a deep threat. The battle could still come down to special teams, which would clearly work in Coates' favor.
Coates was activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list Wednesday and immediately thrust into competition with Hunter, who drew praise from Ben Roethlisberger earlier in training camp. While the head start will help Hunter's case, Coates is probably still the favorite due to his ability to contribute on special teams. The winner of the battle doesn't figure to have a major role on offense early in the season.
Ben Roethlisberger said he likes the presence Hunter brings to the offense, ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler reports.
The 2013 second-round selection never met expectations in Tennessee and only caught 10 passes in Buffalo last season, but he's at least shown some ability to get down the field with 12 touchdowns and a 16.7 YPR mark on 78 career catches. While still a long shot to make the final roster despite drawing praise from his new team's quarterback, Hunter could challenge Sammie Coates for a role as an occasional deep threat. The Steelers do seem to be in good shape at wide receiver so long as Martavis Bryant is fully reinstated at some point during training camp. Eli Rogers likely will man the slot in three-wide formations, and rookie second-rounder JuJu Smith-Schuster could be the top backup at multiple spots.
Hunter, like Bryant, boasts an excellent combination of size and speed, which has allowed him to make a strong impression during Pittsburgh's opening practices. While Bryant is sure to reclaim his starting job once reinstated, Hunter's performance thus far should help his case of making the team's roster, although he'll need to maintain it in the coming weeks to be sure.
|3||9/24/17||@ CHI||1:00 pm|
|4||10/1/17||@ BAL||1:00 pm|
|6||10/15/17||@ KC||4:25 pm|
|8||10/29/17||@ DET||8:30 pm|
|Bye: Week 9|
|10||11/12/17||@ IND||1:00 pm|
|13||12/4/17||@ CIN||8:30 pm|
|16||12/25/17||@ HOU||4:30 pm|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|