View Full Version : Wallace wants to add to repertoire

10-15-2010, 02:26 AM
Wallace wants to add to repertoire
Friday, October 15, 2010
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 04422.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_704422.html)

There are times when the player with the seemingly superhuman speed shows that he is indeed human.

Take when the Steelers' Mike Wallace checks the statistics of the wide receivers whose names were called before his in the 2009 NFL Draft. Or when his expressive face glows as he talks about his 3-month-old daughter, Maliha.

Both, in different ways, drive Wallace in his quest to become a complete player — as well as a more than capable replacement for Santonio Holmes.

Wallace appears to be on the right track in both endeavors, although fast track might be more apropos considering his blazing speed.

After averaging 19.6 yards per catch as one of the NFL's top rookie wideouts in 2009, Wallace has cemented his reputation as a premier deep threat.

He has caught passes of 52, 46 and 41 yards this season, and Wallace's average of 23.4 yards a catch is No. 1 among NFL starting wide receivers.

"I've never seen anybody that fast that guys know he's going deep and still can't cover him," Steelers free safety Ryan Clark said of Wallace.

What the Steelers want is for the 6-foot, 199-pounder to become as hard to cover on short and intermediate routes.

That desire is the genesis of the "one-trick pony" moniker with which Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has tagged Wallace.

Tomlin said he's joking when he calls Wallace that, but his words have had their intended effect.

"He doesn't know, but I get kind of mad because I don't like that," Wallace said. "I know it's all fun and games, but I have a lot of tricks. Unleash me, that's all. I have a long way to go, but at the same time, I work hard every day."

The nickname isn't all that motivates Wallace. He still stews — or at least simmers — about lasting well into the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft.

Wallace led the SEC in yards per reception as a senior while also setting an Ole Miss single-season record in all-purpose yards. He ran the second-fastest 40-yard dash at the 2009 NFL Combine (4.33 seconds) but still got passed over for 10 other wide receivers.

Among the wideouts taken ahead of Wallace are two, Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie, that will visit Heinz Field on Sunday with the Browns.

"I always take it to heart, all those guys that went before me," Wallace said. "I think I'm better than all of them pretty much. (Teams) were sleeping on me like I was playing in my jammies."

If using that perceived slight as fuel sounds familiar, it's indeed straight from the playbook of Wallace's mentor, Hines Ward.

Equally as powerful a motivator is the daughter that brings out Wallace's softer side.

Maliha was born during the early part of training camp, and Wallace got a chance to see her during the recent three-day weekend the Steelers enjoyed because of the bye.

Visiting with his daughter in New Orleans only reinforced to Wallace that he's now playing for more than just himself.

"I have somebody depending on me to take care of her," Wallace said. "I've got to be able to get her anything she wants."

To cash in big on his next contract, Wallace will have to become a more refined route runner as well as improve on reading defenses.

Barring injury, Wallace figures to do both.

"A lot of times, with him, he hasn't seen the coverage and doesn't understand and is just running fast," Ward said. "As you're running fast, you've got to gather information and run the route accordingly. It's kind of hard to teach a fast guy to slow down, but at the same time, he's getting better each day."

Ward, in his role as mentor, said he's "always watching" Wallace.

The reverse also is true, which helps explain why Wallace changed lockers this season — he's in Deshea Townsend's old one — and pretty much dresses next to Ward.

Wallace said he requested the move so he could stretch out a little and be closer to Ward, who owns just about every major receiving record in Steelers history.

"I watch him all the time to see what's going on," Wallace said of Ward. "He's done a lot of things I'd like to do. To do it, you've got to watch it."

Ward and the Steelers, of course, want Wallace to do much more than watch.

"The more he gets comfortable in route running," Ward said, "the more he and I will start complementing each other. You can't just be a guy that goes deep all the time."

10-16-2010, 03:09 PM
Oct 15, 2010

Why the Steelers receivers need Ben Roethlisberger back so badly


PITTSBURGH -- Beyond personal connections, the pass-catching numbers of the Pittsburgh Steelers receivers show why they are excited about the return of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Coming off a four-game suspension, Roethlisberger starts here Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. Though the Steelers went 3-1 without him, they rank last in the NFL in passing after playing with Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon at quarterback.

The statistics amassed so far by Steelers receivers reflect that bottom-ranked status.

A quarter of the way through the season, wide receiver Hines Ward leads the team with 12 catches for 165 yards. Multiply those 12 catches by four and it projects to 48 in a season. Last season, Ward had 95 grabs for 1,167 yards and six TDs.

Tight end Heath Miller has 10 catches for 100 yards and no touchdowns. That would project to 40 catches in a season. Last season, Miller had 76 receptions for 789 yards and six touchdowns.

A year ago as a rookie wide receiver, Mike Wallace had 39 catches for 756 yards and six touchdowns.

So far this season, he has nine catches for 211 yards and two TDs. Who knows what those numbers might have been had Roethlisberger been playing instead of Dixon and Batch?

"No disrespect to the other guys. They did a phenomenal job," says Ward. "But we are a better ball club when (Roethlisberger's) in the game. So it's great to have there."

Ward says Roethlisberger had a "great training camp." Thanks to a bye, the quarterback has had two weeks to prepare for Cleveland since coming off the suspension.

"I'm excited to get out there with him and get things going. We miss him," says Ward.

"We left a lot of plays out there in the first four games that we could have capitalized (on). …He definitely adds that dimension where he's going to be sharp with all his reads. But when protection does break down, unlike the other quarterbacks, he's able to make big plays outside the pocket. So he brings an added dimension to our offense."

Now all the Pittsburgh receivers have some catching -- and catching up -- to do.

Wallace showed up this week minus his Mohawk haircut.

Roethlisberger says that before this season, he had Wallace had a "little deal" that he would get rid of the Mohawk if he got 1,000 yards receiving.

"So I was really going to push for that this year, to get him the yards," says Roethlisberger. "But he did it already, so we'll just give him 1,000 yards without it, hopefully."

-- Gary Mihoces

http://content.usatoday.com/communities ... so-badly/1 (http://content.usatoday.com/communities/thehuddle/post/2010/10/why-the-steelers-receivers-need-ben-roethlisberger-back-so-badly/1)