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Mike Tomlin tells 2 Steelers receivers sniping at each other on Twitter to ‘play nice’

These exchanges are rarely this public, but here we are.

The Steelers drafted a receiver in the second round of the NFL draft on Friday: USC star JuJu Smith-Schuster. Because teams draft prospects with their current rosters in mind, this set off some speculation about a few Steeler wideouts.

A fan tweeted to Martavis Bryant, a fourth-year receiver whom the NFL just conditionally reinstated after a season-long drug suspension. His message was something to the effect of, “You’re being replaced.”

Bryant responded in a tweet that’s since been deleted:

lol that's Sammie coates replacement not minds take it how you want to I am back.

A bit later, he added:

It's a business so I treat it like that.

Coates, a third-year receiver out of Auburn, responded to Bryant:


Steelers coach Mike Tomlin stepped away from his draft work to moderate the discussion between his two young, combative receivers.

To which Coates responded:

Tomlin followed up in an interview on the NFL Network on Saturday.

“I’m no different than the guys,” he told Rich Eisen. “I didn’t feel the need to step in. It was just a little fun. You guys can read into it however you want. We’ve got a competitive group. We’re very transparent in our competitive atmosphere.”

The football season is still many months away, and we don’t know whether Coates, Bryant, or neither is correct. Bryant’s reinstatement to the NFL still depends on him clearing several hurdles this offseason. While Bryant was suspended last season, Coates played poorly, dropping bushels of passes from Ben Roethlisberger. Both are talented deep threats, but they’ve both struggled, somehow or another.

The Steelers have a crowded receiver group. Antonio Brown’s the obvious No. 1, with Smith-Schuster and Eli Rogers locks to make the roster out of training camp. That leaves only two or three spots for Coates, Bryant, and a few other targets who kicked around the roster last year. The NFL’s a tricky business sometimes.