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I-Want-Troy's-Hair
10-07-2009, 01:38 PM
http://espn.go.com/blog/afcnorth/post/_/id/3949/rookie-surprise-steelers-wr-mike-wallace

Rookie surprise: Steelers WR Mike Wallace

PITTSBURGH -- Mike Wallace had no idea the Steelers would be calling his name.

The rookie receiver spent so much time with the Chicago Bears and Tennessee Titans leading up to April’s NFL draft that, in Wallace’s mind, he was prepared to pack his bags for one of those two cities. Both teams were in desperate need of receivers and liked Wallace’s potential.

Pittsburgh wide receiver Mike Wallace was surprised he was drafted by the team, but is glad to work with veterans Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes.

But after the first day of the draft passed and no one called, the Mississippi product was shocked when the defending champions selected him in the third round, No. 84 overall.

Steelers receivers coach Randy Fichtner met with Wallace on two brief occasions last spring: Once during Wallace’s pro day and at another meeting during the combine. According to Wallace, there was never a strong indication Pittsburgh would draft him.

"It wasn’t even on my mind to come to the Steelers," Wallace said. "But I feel like everything happens for a reason. I was excited because it was a good team -- the Super Bowl champs -- and they got two great guys to learn from in Santonio [Holmes] and Hines [Ward]. So I'm just trying to make sure I get in and fit in with those guys."

A month into the season, Wallace has been the biggest second-day draft surprise in the AFC North. He is playing behind Ward and Holmes as the team’s No. 3 receiver and ranks third with the Steelers in receiving yards (194) and fourth in receptions (14).

Wallace, who also might be the fastest player on the team, made his longest catch of the season when he recently zipped past the Cincinnati Bengals' secondary for 51 yards. The play was part of his seven-catch, 102-yard performance in Week 3. He also had two catches for 47 yards in last weekend’s 38-28 victory over the San Diego Chargers.

As Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl MVP receivers Holmes and Ward get most of the attention, Wallace has quietly taken advantage of his opportunities.

"He’s a great talent," Ward said of his rookie teammate recently. "Teams are going to have to start paying attention to him."

Wallace is not your typical first-year player.

The rookie is 23, which is one year older than Pittsburgh's 2008 first-round pick Rashard Mendenhall. Wallace also played four years, including 10 games as a true freshman, in the tough SEC.

Wallace’s receiving statistics in college didn’t jump out compared to some of his rookie peers. But so far the third-round pick has more receptions and yards than first-round receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey of the Oakland Raiders and Jeremy Maclin of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Wallace went through three offensive coordinators during his college career at Ole Miss, which probably hurt his production. But Wallace also says learning different systems was a blessing in disguise because he ran many of the routes required in the NFL.

"I also had two different head coaches," Wallace said of his college career. "We had switched so much that I had to run into some of the concepts [in Pittsburgh] that we were already doing."

Wallace also has life experience. His hometown of New Orleans was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 while Wallace was in college. The roof of his family’s home caved in and they were forced to relocate to Dallas for five months. Eventually Wallace’s family returned home to New Orleans, fixed the roof and replaced all the furniture. Wallace says everything is back to normal.

Overall the Steelers are happy with the production of their third-rounder. The team traded out of the second round last April for additional third-round picks, because it felt the same caliber of players might be available. The pick used on Wallace was acquired in a trade with the Denver Broncos.

Pittsburgh rarely is a team where rookies get a lot of opportunities, but Wallace has quickly earned the trust of coach Mike Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Wallace was the team’s fourth receiver in training camp. But Limas Sweed’s struggles early in the season opened the door for Wallace to become a bigger part of the offense.

Wallace developed a reputation in college as a speedster who needed to sharpen his routes, but he has worked hard with Pittsburgh’s coaching staff to improve in that area and it’s paying off. In addition to his coaches, Wallace said Ward and Holmes also are staying on the rookie in practice.

Wallace understands their reasons.

"If I don’t know how to run my route, that’s hurting them too and that’s hurting the rest of the team," Wallace said. "So both of them are always on me about different things all the time. One of them might tell me about dipping my head, the other might tell me about my stride. Both of them are always picking at me, so I’m constantly trying to clean all of that up."

With Ward and Holmes doing the polishing, Wallace doesn't look like a rookie so far.

TampaSteelerFan
10-07-2009, 06:46 PM
Limas who?

mulldog24
10-07-2009, 06:52 PM
I really love this guy's work ethic and his attitude! I think he will be a solid WR for us for years to come.

stillers4me
10-07-2009, 06:55 PM
This explains his obvious maturity as a player.

NJarhead
10-07-2009, 07:06 PM
This guy seems to have a lot of upside. I'm pretty excited about him. Now if Limas Sweed can earn his way back on to the field at some point, our 5 wide could be even more dangerous than it looked the other night.

Steelboy84
10-07-2009, 08:05 PM
Superstar in the making.

MasterOfPuppets
10-07-2009, 09:29 PM
holmes future replacement.... you heard it here first...:popcorn:

NJarhead
10-07-2009, 09:49 PM
holmes future replacement.... you heard it here first...:popcorn:

Are you saying that because you think Santo will want too big a contract? My guess would be Hines' eventual replacement w/ Santo going over the middle.

We can use Sweed on the screen passes. :chuckle:

MasterOfPuppets
10-07-2009, 09:57 PM
Are you saying that because you think Santo will want too big a contract? My guess would be Hines' eventual replacement w/ Santo going over the middle.

We can use Sweed on the screen passes. :chuckle:
holmes contract will expire before ward retires.and yes it will come down to dollars and cents....there's still a few contracts looming large in the next few seasons...you can't keep everyone, so if wallace continues to get better, he makes holmes and his 55 catches very expendable.

steeltheone
10-08-2009, 01:17 AM
I was so against him as a number 3...He is winning me over!

Galax Steeler
10-08-2009, 03:48 AM
holmes future replacement.... you heard it here first...:popcorn:

I have got a feeling that you are right. For some reason he just seems like a guy that will want a big contract. I hope that you are wrong but I don't think so.

HometownGal
10-08-2009, 07:31 AM
I loved this guy from hello. No doubt in my mind that this kid is a diamond in the rough and is going to contribute heavily to the O's success not only this season, but in years to come. :thumbsup:

Fire Haley
10-08-2009, 08:04 AM
holmes future replacement.... you heard it here first...:popcorn:

no way - he's Ward's replacement - if Santonio gets enough money to stay

steelballs
10-08-2009, 08:39 AM
Wallace seems to fit the Steelers just right.
I like his explosiveness of the line of scrimmage and he's got great hands for a speedster.

JHSilverback
10-08-2009, 09:12 AM
Wallace has def won me over....that catch against san diego was just damn impressive and is a def threat down field

CanadianSteel
10-08-2009, 10:39 AM
Kinda funny and ironic about Hines and Santonio being on him about running better& proprer routes. I wonder if he gave it back to Santonio a little bit after the Bengals game inetrcetion return...
Wallace looks good so far.... real good !

NJarhead
10-08-2009, 02:24 PM
holmes contract will expire before ward retires.and yes it will come down to dollars and cents....there's still a few contracts looming large in the next few seasons...you can't keep everyone, so if wallace continues to get better, he makes holmes and his 55 catches very expendable.

Welp. He'd better stay consistent in the mean time then. From what I remember, Hines has about 2 years left, maybe 3 (in fact, I think those were the numbers he threw out last year).

tmacsteelerfan
10-08-2009, 08:15 PM
I think it's funny because they were both basically the same type of player in college and now in the NFL Mike Wallace has been doing good and Limas Sweed, well the Steelers with no cheerleaders need somebody on the sidelines to pump them up. But I do think he will mature he's got two great teachers in Ward and Holmes.

Nadroj 20
10-08-2009, 09:28 PM
I knew Wallace was good from the start.
I think he is def the 3 and will have his big game soon

steelreserve
10-08-2009, 10:41 PM
I have got a feeling that you are right. For some reason he just seems like a guy that will want a big contract. I hope that you are wrong but I don't think so.

I think we'll have something like $17-20 million in cap room coming free next offseason. We might be able to keep him with some of that. Of course, there's also guys like Woodley and Hampton to worry about, maybe Taylor if we extend him early. I bet we get at least three of the four, though. Who we draft will probably have a lot to do with how that situation turns out.

stb_steeler
10-09-2009, 12:16 AM
Wow worried about losing someone only going into the 5th week....But anywho, I gotta feeling Wallace is just getting started. I think he's gonna be used in alot of 3rd down plays.

MongoSteeler
10-09-2009, 04:00 AM
Wallace is looking very good right now. You also have to remember that the opposing teams are all putting the double coverage on Holmes right now.Wallace will be a factor in pulling some of that coverage off.

I think Sweed is a player that will still come around. A year or two in NFL Europe would have been just the ticket for him IMHO.

markymarc
10-10-2009, 02:25 PM
Mike Wallace is going to be a very good WR for us. It's going to be scary how good this kid can be once the game slows down for him.