View Full Version : More tricks up his sleeve

09-21-2011, 11:26 PM
More tricks up his sleeve

By Teresa Varley - Steelers.com
http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/ ... e131b667c3 (http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/More-tricks-up-his-sleeve/04c7e12c-7a75-415b-b817-0fe131b667c3)

When asked about wide receiver Mike Wallace during his weekly press conference, Coach Mike Tomlin joked, “He is a one-trick guy. He’s working though. I like Mike.”

Tomlin was referring to when he called Wallace a “one-trick pony” his rookie season, when using his speed to go deep was the main factor in his game.

But Wallace has definitely grown from that, and laughed when he was asked about Tomlin’s comments.

“I heard about that. I have to get him off my back,” said Wallace. “This week hopefully I can do something to get him off my back.”

Even quarterback Ben Roethlisberger got in on the act a bit.

“He’s about two tricks now,” said Roethlisberger. “Every year we add a little bit more for him.”

Joking aside, Roethlisberger knows he has something special in Wallace.

“He wants to get better at it and he works really hard at getting better at it,” said Roethlisberger. “He’s able to do things in and out of breaks, just run deep. So he’s doing a lot of great things.”

Wallace, in his third season, showed what he can do against the Seahawks last week when he caught eight passes for 126 yards, the fifth straight regular season game with 100 yards receiving. One of the receptions was a 53-yarder, but he also had a two-yard touchdown grab on a fade pattern, a perfect hook-up between him and Roethlisberger.

“I don’t know about a perfect throw but he makes a pretty easy catch,” said Roethlisberger. “We’ve probably had more perfect both ways. It’s fun when you get that kind of easy throw and easy catch.”

* * *

Peyton Manning has been a constant in the Indianapolis Colts offense, starting all 16 regular season games for the last 13 years.

But that streak came to an end when the 2011 season started, with Manning out with a neck injury.

The Steelers defense is used to Manning being the man for the Colts, so facing a different quarterback will be strange when the two teams meet on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“It will be weird playing them without Peyton period,” said nose tackle Casey Hampton. “He has always been out there. That is the main thing, playing with a different quarterback.”

Manning or no Manning, the Steelers know they will have their hands full with the Colts despite their 0-2 start this season. The Colts added 17-year veteran quarterback Kerry Collins in late August and he has thrown for 388 yards and two touchdowns in two games.

“Kerry Collins has had a long career and a great career and he has done well against us when we played against him,” said defensive end Aaron Smith. “We go in there with the same mindset. That being said there is only one Peyton Manning to play in this league and he is a great quarterback. Kerry is very capable of getting the job done and coming out and having a big day against us if we are not prepared.

“You can see week-by-week they are getting better and cleaner execution when they run the plays. Kerry is getting better knowing where the ball needs to go and the receivers and him getting a feel for each other. We have our work cut out for us this week.”

Collins has some amazing weapons to work with, including receivers Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon and tight end Dallas Clark.

“They are about to start clicking,” said cornerback Ike Taylor. “You can tell on tape. It’s not going to be an overnight thing coming into that system with Kerry Collins, but that’s why they got him. He is a veteran guy. You can tell over the course of the two games they are starting to get on the same page. It’s hard replacing Peyton. They have been playing together a long time with the receivers. You can tell over the last couple of games it’s starting to click. They are on their way. We just have to go out there and take care of what we need to do.”

* * *

Linebackers Jason Worilds and Chris Carter are playing the roles of Colts defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis in practice this week, but no matter how good a look they give the offense, nothing can fully prepare them for what the Colts Pro Bowlers bring.

“Disrupt, speed, and spin moves,” said Roethlisberger. “They’re built for that turf and the crowd noise. When you have to use a silent count they can get off the ball and they’re basically like linebackers that are big and strong.”

Keeping the two at bay will definitely test the offense, but Roethlisberger knows he has some big guns of his own to protect him against the pressure.

“They’re so fast and it’s a huge challenge for these guys this week,” said Roethlisberger. “I’ve got faith in our tackles and our tight ends, whoever is on them. Those ends are going to win some and we’re going to win some too.”

* * *

When Bryant McFadden broke up the pass to Reggie Wayne on that January afternoon in 2005, he knew it was a big play. He just had no idea how big.

A minute earlier it appeared the Steelers were going to defeat the Colts in the divisional playoff game and sail into the AFC Championship game. But Jerome Bettis fumbled near the goal line and Gary Brackett returned it 35 yards to the Colts 42-yard line, stopped only by Roethlisberger’s shoestring tackle.

With 1:01 on the clock, Manning went to work completing a 22-yard pass to Wayne and hitting Marvin Harrison for eight yards. On second-and-two from the 28-yard line, Manning went back to Wayne, this time in the end zone. At the last second, McFadden broke up what was a sure touchdown. Tony Dungy could be seen on the sidelines yelling for pass interference, but that wasn’t the case.

“We were in the fire zone,” recalled McFadden. “I got a lot of passes my way. I was on Reggie Wayne for the most part. I was tested a whole lot. On that drive I had three passes come my way. I didn’t want to let my teammates down and give up something crucial that would hurt us.”

Mike Vanderjagt’s 46-yard field goal went wide right, and the Steelers held on to win 21-18 advancing to the AFC Championship game and eventually defeating Seattle in Super Bowl XL.

“I didn’t understand the significance until afterwards,” said McFadden. “I was trying to be where I needed to be at and blessed enough to make the play. The play happened so fast. It was another opportunity to try to stop them and get to the next round.

“After the fact, getting on the plane and being bombarded by the media it was wow – that was a big thing. It took me by storm.”

09-22-2011, 02:39 AM
Wallace learning new tricks

Wednesday, September 21, 2011
By Mike Bires mbires@timesonline.com


Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace (17) is on a quest for a record-breaking 2,000-yard season.

PITTSBURGH - No longer do the Steelers consider Mike Wallace a "one-trick pony."

"He's two tricks now," said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

During his first two years with the Steelers, Wallace used his exceptional speed to become one of the NFL's most lethal long-ball threats. It was uncanny how many times he got open deep by out-running opposing defensive backs.

As a rookie, he averaged 40.8 yards on his six touchdown receptions.

Last year, he averaged 39.3 yards on his 11 TD catches (including one in the Super Bowl).

Thus, the "one-trick pony" tag first coined by coach Mike Tomlin.

Wallace, a former Ole Miss star taken in the third round of the 2009 draft, doesn't mind the label one bit. He takes great pride in smoking secondaries on deep routes.

But he also wants to further his development as an all-around receiver, and he believes he did just that in Sunday's 24-0 win over Seattle.

Late in the third quarter, Wallace scored the Steelers' final touchdown by catching a 2-yard lob from Roethlisberger.

It was significant for two reasons.

First, it was his shortest TD catch as a pro. Second, it represented an ever-growing chemistry between him and Roethlisberger.

On second-and-goal, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians called a run. But while looking over the Seahawks' defense, Roethlisberger changed the play. Roethlisberger didn't call an audible. He just took the snap, dropped back and watched as Wallace, sensing his quarterback's intention, streaked past cornerback Brandon Browner. While everyone else on offense thought run, Roethlisberger lobbed a pass toward the corner of the end zone.

Wallace ran under it and caught it.

"I trust him to know what I'm going to do and I trust in what he's going to do," Roethlisberger said.

When asked about his 2-yard TD catch lowering his yards-per catch average -- it's 19.5 for his career -- Wallace just smiled.

"Yeah, that's true," he said. "But it went for a touchdown, so I can deal with it."

It's early in the season, but so far Wallace has been the Steelers' most productive offensive player. He caught eight passes for 107 yards in the season opener in Baltimore and he caught eight passes for 126 yards against the Seahawks.

So far Wallace is on pace for his bold training camp prediction.

On the first day of camp when Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders said their goal was to rack up 1,000 receiving yards this season, Wallace upped the ante to 2,000.

Considering that no receiver has ever reached 2,000 -- Jerry Rice holds the NFL record at 1,848 -- that's quite a daring statement.

But if Wallace keeps up the pace he's on after two games, he'll finish with 1,864.
"Every year, we're adding a lot more for Mike, and he's getting a lot better," Roethlisberger said. "He still has a lot of work to do. He'll admit that. But he wants to get better and he works really hard at getting better. He's doing a lot of great things."

Even a 2-yard TD catch is a step forward for the two-trick pony.

http://www.timesonline.com/sports/local ... 89720.html (http://www.timesonline.com/sports/local_sports/wallace-learning-new-tricks/article_e9e32a1d-6527-57c3-9c09-968e13789720.html)