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fordfixer
04-26-2010, 01:50 AM
Steeler receiver Mike Wallace ready for increased role

By John Harris, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, April 26, 2010
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 78129.html

Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace, the logical replacement for Santonio Holmes, expects to be a main object of opposing game plans for the first time in his NFL career.

"(I know) there's going to be double-teams now,'' said Wallace, a third-round draft pick in 2009. "With Santonio and Hines (Ward), a lot of that pressure was taken off (last season). I know I'm going against elite corners now.''

With his new role, comes new expectations for Wallace, who embraces the challenge.

"I think I can make a major jump I'm trying to make it to the Pro Bowl this year,'' said Wallace, the fastest receiver on the team. "People are going to have their doubts, but I'm going to be ready.''

Wallace's rookie season was a pleasant surprise. He played more than anticipated in taking over for Nate Washington as the No. 3 receiver, catching 39 passes for a team-high 19.4-yard average and six touchdowns.

When the Steelers traded Holmes to the New York Jets for a fifth-round draft pick, Wallace realized he would have to accept more responsibility.

Known for his explosive bursts downfield, Wallace must refine other areas of his game to erase the stigma of being a one-dimensional (speed) receiver.

"Regardless if Santonio was here or not, I was going to be ready for a bigger role,'' Wallace said. "I learned a lot from Santonio, and I'm going to continue to learn from him, even though he's not here. But this is our team, and I'm developing my new role.

"I'm trying to take no steps back. I know we've lost a big-time player, but I'm trying to make the drop-off a lot easier on everybody.''

Wallace will be expected to play outside like Holmes, one of the league's best route-runners.

Ward normally lines up in the slot.

Instead of running straight downfield against nickel backs, Wallace will now have to free himself at the line of scrimmage against starting cornerbacks intent on jamming.

"Hines is a big technique guy," Wallace said. "He has a lot of tricks. Santonio's a big route runner. I learned a lot from him just about keeping my eyes forward, keeping my arms pumping and keeping my feet moving - giving a perception of different things. With that combination of the best of both worlds, I'm ready.''

Wallace is keeping all of his options open. He fielded punts during practice, the way Holmes used to do, in case he's asked to fill that role during the season.

Stefan Logan was the Steelers' punt returner last season.

At Ole Miss, Wallace holds school records for single game, season and career kickoff return yards.

"If they want me to return punts, I will," he said. "I haven't done it in a while, but I look to get better in every aspect - not just at receiver. I never did it during practice last year, but I'd do it after practice. This year, if they want me on the depth chart, I'm ready at any time for whatever.''

proudpittsburgher
04-26-2010, 09:13 AM
Make or break year for the kid, IMO. I loved what he brought emerging as the number three . . . but I need to see what he can do when the defenses are starting to gameplan around him. Hines has lost at least a step and ARE isn't exactly the kind of guy you doubleteam, so Mr. Wallace will be getting a little more respect by the defense this year with Santonio smokin the dubage in NYC. If he puts together better numbers than last year, we could have our answer at wideout.

papillon
04-26-2010, 09:30 AM
Make or break year for the kid, IMO. I loved what he brought emerging as the number three . . . but I need to see what he can do when the defenses are starting to gameplan around him. Hines has lost at least a step and ARE isn't exactly the kind of guy you doubleteam, so Mr. Wallace will be getting a little more respect by the defense this year with Santonio smokin the dubage in NYC. If he puts together better numbers than last year, we could have our answer at wideout.

Steeler fans are going to find out exactly what Holmes meant to this offense. You have to be ready to play every week as the #1 or #2 guy and CBs and defensive coordinators are determining who can hurt them and game plan for that guy. That used to be Holmes and he added a couple years to Ward's career with the attention he drew; I fully expect Ward to be a little less productive this year, unless Wallace can become a pro-bowl type receiver this year.

The passing game is going to rely on Ben more than ever, IMHO. With Holmes there were times that no one came free on initial reads, without Holmes, I expect that will happen even more frequently.

Sweed actually could be the wild card this year, he gets open easily, if his problems are behind him and he begins to catch the ball he will relieve some pressure in the passing game.

Pappy