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mesaSteeler
08-11-2009, 06:55 AM
Steelers' rookie receiver proving to be a fast learner
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Peter Diana / Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09223/989992-66.stm

Rookie cornerback Keenan Lewis has known Mike Wallace since the two were growing up in the Algiers section of New Orleans, so he knows how fast the rookie receiver from the University of Mississippi can move. And, because the best friends are roommates at training camp after each was drafted in the third round by the Steelers, Lewis can refute any notion that Wallace is so fast he can turn off the light switch and be in bed before the room gets dark.

But, man, is he fast.

"He's definitely the fastest I've run against," said Lewis, a 6-foot, 206-pound cornerback from Oregon State. "I pretty much know how fast he is now so I know how many yards to get back when I'm covering him."

"He can fly," said tight end Heath Miller. "Just one day I wish I could run like that to see what it feels like to run past people."

"He's one of fastest I've ever run against," said cornerback Ike Taylor, generally acknowledged by his teammates as the fastest Steelers player. "Nobody's really running like him right now."

Wallace was the second fastest receiver in the draft, behind Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey, after being timed at the NFL Combine in 4.28 and 4.32 in the 40-yard dash. At Ole Miss, he said he was once timed in a school-record 4.21. But it's not just his speed that is making the Steelers take notice at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe.

After publicly being tweaked by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for dropping passes on deep routes, Wallace has made several leaping, twisting catches in practice -- including one in the back of the end zone Friday night at Latrobe's Memorial Stadium.

What's more, his willingness to catch passes in traffic is another reason the offensive coaches have not ruled him out as the No. 3 receiver in the offense, though the job appears to belong to Limas Sweed, last year's second-round draft choice.

"He's one of those guys who will go in what I call the combat zone -- inside those numbers, between the hashes," said offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. "He's not afraid to go in the combat zone. It takes special cats to go in there. A lot of guys like to play out there by those numbers, especially those fast guys, and he hasn't shied away at all."

Wallace is being used at just one position in training camp -- flanker, or Z-receiver -- because Arians wants him to get comfortable at that spot before trying to learn the other positions. When he gets to play in Thursday night's preseason opener against the Arizona Cardinals, Wallace will likely be paired in tandem with Sweed, who will line at split end, or X-receiver.

"I'm getting better everyday understanding coverages," Wallace said. "There's been an adjustment to the speed of the game and it was a lot different learning a whole new scheme. But I feel like I'm getting better every day and I'm making strides."

Wallace said he had to make another adjustment, as well -- this one to Western Pennsylvania. Until training camp, Wallace said he has never been to the northeast part of the country.

"I never left the South before in my life," he said. "In college, as far as we came was Wake Forest or Missouri. We never really came too far. I've been to Ohio, but that was when I was 13 or 14 running AAU track. Other than that, I never came too far north. That's the biggest adjustment -- just getting used to the atmosphere."

Wallace's speed puts him in a rare atmosphere. He is faster than Nate Washington, who was the team's fastest receiver before leaving in free agency to sign with the Tennessee Titans. And he has not raced Taylor, a fellow native of Louisiana, who said he has been clocked between 4.2 and 4.3.

"Oh yeah, I can beat him," Taylor said.

"Maybe Ike," Wallace said, when asked if any of his new teammates can beat him. "Until we race, he got the title. I'll give it to him."

Lewis, who was drafted with the 96th overall pick in the draft, 12 spots lower than Wallace, isn't so sure.

"When he gets the ball in his hands and he starts running, that guy is just explosive," he said.

The Steelers, and everyone else, have definitely noticed.

"This kid is cutting out a nice little niche for himself," Arians said. "He's what we were hoping we would get -- a guy who can take the top off the coverage. But, as he becomes a better route-runner, we can use him more."

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09223/989992-66.stm#ixzz0NsHxvlFY

Galax Steeler
08-11-2009, 07:18 AM
Wow, I can't wait to watch him come Thursday night. I want to see him turn on the after burners. It is hard to know who will take the no.3 spot this year. We have 3 good ones going for it.

The Definiti0n
08-11-2009, 07:58 AM
Wow. Faster than Nate.

stlrtruck
08-11-2009, 08:11 AM
It's great that he can run but the question remains, is he going to outrun the ball or just he coverage? And, can he catch on the fly?

Kvnfaber
08-11-2009, 08:19 AM
I guess we'll get our first taste this Thursday! :)

43Hitman
08-11-2009, 08:35 AM
I guess we'll get our first taste this Thursday! :)

Can't wait!

scsteeler
08-11-2009, 08:37 AM
Nice read maybe this is what is needed to get Sweed to step up his play even more.

mulldog24
08-11-2009, 08:40 AM
If he really is what the steelers were hoping they would get then this kid is gonna light it up! I can't wait to see him play on the pro level. We got a guy that is bigger,faster than Nate Washington who will catch the ball in traffic thats just crazy!!!!!!!!!!

mmalone
08-11-2009, 09:17 AM
If he really is what the steelers were hoping they would get then this kid is gonna light it up! I can't wait to see him play on the pro level. We got a guy that is bigger,faster than Nate Washington who will catch the ball in traffic thats just crazy!!!!!!!!!!

nice tandem in size and speed here...


17 Wallace, Mike WR 6-0 199 8/1/86 R

14 Sweed, Limas WR_ 6-4 220 12/25/84 2

---------------------------------

85 Washington, Nate WR 6-1 185 08/28/1983 5

hopefully we will be saying nate who?? when the season starts

SteelMember
08-11-2009, 10:05 AM
I wonder if Ike would still win the race if they were asked to carry a ball. :chuckle:

Feet, maybe. Hands, NO!

Sorry Ike. Just keep knocking 'em down. :thumbsup:

steelreserve
08-11-2009, 11:56 AM
Well, this is awesome. So far I've heard nothing but good things about the guy. If he comes in and starts kicking ass right away, who even cares if Sweed pans out? That would just be a bonus.

goLERS
08-11-2009, 01:17 PM
Well, this is awesome. So far I've heard nothing but good things about the guy. If he comes in and starts kicking ass right away, who even cares if Sweed pans out? That would just be a bonus.

Don't get carried away. I'm pretty sure EVERYONE cares if Sweed pans out. You can't teach speed just like you can't teach height. The combination of both (along with Santonio & Hines) would be pretty fun to watch.

steelreserve
08-11-2009, 01:45 PM
Well, OK, if both worked out, that's obviously the best possible scenario and everyone would love it. If not, I'll be plenty happy if either one does. I can't remember the last time we had a genuine badass at the No. 3 receiver position, if at all. :thumbsup:

revefsreleets
08-11-2009, 01:52 PM
Competition is awesome...we already KNOW what McDonald can do (79 for 943 and 6 TD's in '07)...if one of these guys can beat HIM out we may very well have the best WR tandem in the league this year...

WPAathletics.com
08-11-2009, 02:05 PM
I've been to 4 training camp practices... I'd say that he's looked OK...

Hines Ward has been the most impressive. He doesnt look like he's slowed down a bit. Like always, he's catching everything thats throw his direction.

Psyychoward86
08-11-2009, 02:25 PM
Our No. 3 receiver spot competition is awesome. Before the draft, some considered us thin at wide receiver, and some still think we are. Yet, it feels to me like we're loaded at this position. Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Limas Sweed, Shaun McDonald, and Mike Wallce. What's not to love?

MasterOfPuppets
08-11-2009, 03:52 PM
Well, this is awesome. So far I've heard nothing but good things about the guy. If he comes in and starts kicking ass right away, who even cares if Sweed pans out? That would just be a bonus.
WAAAALLLLACE , JUST DOESN'T ROLL OF THE TONGUE LIKE SWEEEEEEED.....:doh:

Preacher
08-11-2009, 04:08 PM
Our No. 3 receiver spot competition is awesome. Before the draft, some considered us thin at wide receiver, and some still think we are. Yet, it feels to me like we're loaded at this position. Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Limas Sweed, Shaun McDonald, and Mike Wallce. What's not to love?

"Are you kidding me" comes to mind looking at this possiblity. If Ward can keep his game up for the next 3-5 years, We just may have the best WR group in the NFL from top to bottom. Sweed going hight, Wallace going long, Ward coming over the middle and also the assured move the chains guy, and Santo the big play man.

If our O line is just AVERAGE in pass blocking this year, and these guys take the steps necessary, we will be destructive through the air.

That is great, because it pulls guys out of the box, and gives room to run. THere is more than one way to fix the run game.

Nighthawk
08-11-2009, 07:10 PM
"Are you kidding me" comes to mind looking at this possiblity. If Ward can keep his game up for the next 3-5 years, We just may have the best WR group in the NFL from top to bottom. Sweed going hight, Wallace going long, Ward coming over the middle and also the assured move the chains guy, and Santo the big play man.

If our O line is just AVERAGE in pass blocking this year, and these guys take the steps necessary, we will be destructive through the air.

That is great, because it pulls guys out of the box, and gives room to run. THere is more than one way to fix the run game.

Not to mention when Sweed + Ward are on the field at the same time I think we will easily have the most physical WR's in history of the NFL. They can lay some blocks in and intimidate the secondary (even the LB's haha). Which could really help open up our runs once they get to that second tier

stillers4me
08-11-2009, 07:12 PM
WAAAALLLLACE , JUST DOESN'T ROLL OF THE TONGUE LIKE SWEEEEEEED.....:doh:

How abput Miiiiiiikeyyyyyy!

GodofGridiron
08-11-2009, 08:01 PM
Santonio, Wallace, Sweed, Ben, Mendenhall........thats a nice lil core for the future on the offensive side.

This is gonna be something to watch on 3rd downs or the 2 min offense. 4-wide:

Wallace (speed to stretch the field)
Sweed (on the sideline fade routes)
Hines (when you need 7 yrds on 3rd and 6)
Santonio (deadly on the quick slants)

Ben has no excuse NOT to find somebody open. Throw in a back who hopefully can catch out of the backfield and you have a close resemblence of what was once the greatest show on turf (1999-2000 Rams). Those are weapons.

Preacher
08-11-2009, 08:13 PM
Nice thing is, Even in the 2 minute offense, with a couple speedsters, you can send someone far down the field.

When the play is over, that person just runs to the sidelines and gets off the field.

The next speedster just steps in for the next play.

It would keep the defense stretched even further and open up all types of underneath stuff.

stillers4me
08-11-2009, 08:17 PM
It would be nice to have one of our draft picks make an immediate impact. Wallace could be the guy. Seeing how Timmons and Woodley are coming along and considering we won a superbowl without a draft pick on the field, I'm not really complaining. With Mendenhall and Sepulveda back on the field, having at least one of our draft picks this year making a difference would be the icing on the cake. Ziggy should be showing his stuff by midseason, too.