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mesaSteeler
02-03-2011, 06:35 AM
Perrotto: Wallace has many tricks
http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sports_details/article/1501/2011/february/03/perrotto-wallace-has-many-tricks.html
By: John Perrotto
Beaver County Times

Thursday February 3, 2011 12:04 AM

FORT WORTH, Texas — The NFL has handed out seemingly every award possible with every corporate sponsor possible during Super Bowl week.

One award the NFL doesn’t bestow, though, is most improved player. If it did, Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace would be a prime candidate.

Now that is not to say Wallace was a stiff last season in his rookie year. He caught 39 passes for 756 yards and six touchdowns, and showed big-play ability as he averaged 19.4 yards a reception.

In the NFL, coaches always say that a player makes his biggest strides between his rookie and second seasons. That has certainly been the case with Wallace.

Wallace has gone from a receiver who can get the occasional big gainer to a reliable member of the starting lineup, stepping in for the traded Santonio Holmes without the Steelers’ offense suffering.

Wallace led the team in receiving in the regular season with 60 catches for 1,257 yards, a 20.4 average and 10 touchdowns.

If there is one player on the Steelers’ offense that has the chance to turn the Super Bowl around with one big play, it is Wallace.

However, it goes beyond statistics with the Steelers’ third-round draft pick in 2009 from Mississippi. He is more than just the one-trick pony of his rookie year when he was pretty much limited to using his sprinter’s speed to run deep routes.

“Mike is a one-and-a-half trick pony now,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said with a smile Wednesday.

Wallace has gotten better in all phases of the game, from running more precise routes to being more willing to catch the ball in traffic to blocking. Tomlin knows that but still doesn’t like to give Wallace too much credit yet.
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“We as coaches will pull anything as a motivational ploy,” Tomlin said. “Mike understands that. Mike has a physical distinguishing characteristic. Of course, he’s able to take the top off the coverage. I’m just in my way trying to encourage him to be a complete player. He has a desire to do that. He wants to be a great player.

“We all know that if he is going too that, it is going to be because he has a complete, well-rounded game.”

Wallace was considered a special talent coming out of college. He was not, however, considered a can’t-miss player because of his lack of polish.

Yet Wallace says he is not surprised that he is approaching stardom after just two years in the league. In fact, in a non-arrogant way, he feels he’s earned it, especially by paying to the attention set by veteran wideout Hines Ward.

“I know how hard I work every day,” Wallace said. “I put in a lot of work and I really learn from the older guys like Hines, especially Hines, and take everything they have and put it in my arsenal. So, I think if you pay attention along with your natural ability then things can come a lot quicker than people think.”

Ward is the Steelers’ all-time leading receiver, having amassed 954 catches. Wallace has a long way to go to catch Ward but he sure seems intent on making a run at him.