View Full Version : Steelers' Wallace has been 60-minute man

10-03-2009, 02:49 AM
Steelers' Wallace has been 60-minute man

By F. Dale Lolley, Staff writer, dlolley@observer-reporter.com
http://www.observer-reporter.com/OR/Sto ... rs-Wallace (http://www.observer-reporter.com/OR/Story/10-2-Steelers-Wallace)

But Wallace forced his way into the mix with a strong training camp and preseason and now appears to have firmly established himself as the Steelers' best option behind starters Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes.

Not bad for a player who had just 35 receptions in his final season for the Rebels.

The Steelers liked Wallace because of his straight-line speed - he was the second-fastest player at this year's draft combine - and his kick returning ability. The knock on the 6-0, 195-pound receiver was that he wasn't an accomplished route runner.

Wallace, however, has been a quick learner, listening to everything the Steelers coaching staff tells him and serving an apprenticeship with veteran Hines Ward.

"My job (is to teach him) let's try to get that one more yard, teach him situational football," Ward said. "Let's not try to get fourth-and-one and punt. Let's get that extra yard. And he's done that. He's done a good job. I think he stepped up to the plate and proved to be a playmaker and a splash player on this team like Nate Washington was."

It has paid off early as Wallace has been one of the few pleasant surprises for the Steelers in their disappointing 1-2 start, hauling in 12 passes for 147 yards, including seven for 102 yards in last Sunday's 23-20 loss in Cincinnati.

Though he seems to have grabbed the No. 3 job from Sweed, who continues to be plagued by dropped passes, Wallace isn't resting on his laurels.

Head coach Mike Tomlin won't let that happen.

"He just wants me to keep working and not get a big head," said Wallace. "He's been on me. I know as soon as we go to practice, he's going to be on me. That's every day. He's going to keep doing the same thing he's been doing; make sure I'm going fast and playing fast."

Playing fast isn't a problem for Wallace, who runs a sub-4.4-second 40-yard dash.

He did plenty of that at Mississippi, averaging more than 20 yards per catch. Perhaps his speed hurt him because he was rarely called upon to run any complicated routes.

"I always could run routes; it was just the type of stuff that we were running," Wallace said. "That was my role. My goal every week is to go out and show people that I can do the things they said I couldn't do."

Not that he can't still go deep. After missing on deep balls to Wallace throughout the preseason and in the first two games - often underthrowing him - quarterback Ben Roethlisberger finally completed a bomb to him against the Bengals.

The only bad thing was that Wallace, who had blown by cornerback Johnathan Joseph, stepped out of bounds. The Steelers were unable to get into the end zone, settling for a field goal.

"I should have been looking at where I was," Wallace said. "I was looking at the ball, not realizing that I was drifting to the side. I just have to be aware of where I'm at and stay in bounds and get the touchdown."

But, it was a start.

And Ward thinks opponents will soon realize Wallace is a weapon.

"They'd better or he's going to run right past you if you don't," Ward said. "Teams are going to start trying to take (Holmes) and myself away and trying to see what our third receiver can do. And he's going to get a lot more opportunities."

Wallace has mot disappointed.

"Hines is telling me every day things that are going to happen in the games and then I go out and it's happening just like he was saying. That makes it a lot easier," Wallace said.

Odds and end zones

Running back Willie Parker (toe) missed his second consecutive day of practice. He was joined on the sideline by tight end David Johnson (ankle), safety Troy Polamalu (knee) and cornerback Keiwan Ratliff (illness). Center Justin Hartwig (ankle) returned to practice after sitting out Wednesday.

10-03-2009, 08:39 AM
Interesting, how most of our WR corp seems to look up to Hines so much. He appears to foster a big brother relationship with all of them.

10-03-2009, 08:42 AM
Interesting, how most of our WR corp seems to look up to Hines so much. He appears to foster a big brother relationship with all of them.

its funny to think that hines tried to help out plax and troy edwards when they were rookies but refused hines's guidence. now they are both out of football and hines is on his way to the hall of fame