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Old 08-29-2009, 12:12 AM   #1
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Default Steelers' Wallace making his case

Steelers' Wallace making his case
Rookie WR receiving positive reviews
By MATT PAWLIKOWSKI, Correspondent

To be or not to be?

For the Steelers that is the question, as in who will man Pittsburgh's No. 3 receiver slot when the team opens up the regular season.

Limas Sweed is in his second year and gives the team a big-man option, something the Steelers haven't had since Plaxico Burress was with the team. Then there is the veteran free-agent Shaun McDonald, who is two years removed from almost having a 1,000-yard season.

While both have been impressive thus far this summer, the guy who has drawn raves of his teammates is rookie Mike Wallace.

It's no secret that Wallace can run with the ball. He was clocked at 4.33 during he NFL combine, which was second-best among receivers, meaning he can stretch the opposing defense. As a matter of fact, there have been times this summer where he has been too fast and ran not only by the Steelers defensive backs, but also the past the ball.

"I've just got to come back and fight for it and make the play," Wallace said. "We'll watch the film and make it work."

That willingness to work is something that has caught the attention of teammates. Santonio Holmes, the MVP of last season's Super Bowl, has said that Wallace is picking his mind constantly about how to improve his game and polish his route running.

"I've been telling him that it is a long season; it's not 12 games like you played in high school and college," Holmes said. "Things are faster. The game is a whole lot faster than you expect, and once you step on the field there are no more opportunities to make mistakes."

So far in preseason action Wallace has been making the most of what he is given.

In the preseason opener against the Arizona Cardinals, Wallace had two grabs for 35 yards. He followed it against the Washington Redskins last Saturday, lining up as the third receiver, and caught two for 23 yards. His average thus far: 14.8 yards per catch.

"I feel like I'm doing pretty good, but made some mistakes," Wallace said. "I feel like I'm running my routes pretty good, but I have to look at my hots (reads) a little more when they are blitzing and stop looking at the quarterback. Once I do that, I'll be fine."

Wallace played the No. 3 slot in the Redskins game, a position that is up for grabs with the departure of Nate Washington to the Titans via free-agency. Sweed is the heir-apparent, but veteran free agent McDonald, who leads the team with nine catches in the preseason, is also making a statement.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin says to not read too much into the fact Wallace got reps as the No. 3 guy verses the Skins.

"It's not a depth-chart thing at this point," Tomlin said. "Last time out, Sweed got that opportunity to be that third wideout. It was Mike's turn. We'll see who we choose next week."

Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch, who has seen a number of good wide receivers in his 11-year career, says Wallace reminds him of Washington with his speed. He also said he likes the way that Wallace is picking both Holmes' and Hines Ward's minds.

While Batch admitted Wallace is far from being a polished product, and needs to learn his routes better, he also added that with the rookie will have a chance to grow.

"When you look at our defense it is probably the toughest you are going to get," Batch said. "And having an opportunity to face that day in and out is going to make him better. Now whether he had to read a lot of coverages running routes in college, I don't know. But we have to do a lot of that here, and he has to be able to do that and to understand the hots. If he can do that, he gains the coaches trust and they'll put him out there to see how he does."
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Old 08-29-2009, 12:36 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers' Wallace making his case

But we have to do a lot of that here, and he has to be able to do that and to understand the hots. If he can do that, he gains the coaches trust and they'll put him out there to see how he does."
meh. not even hines ward understands the "hots". about the only person who does is bruce arians.


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Old 08-29-2009, 06:24 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers' Wallace making his case

Good read - thanks!

I wouldn't mind seeing Wallace at #3, but I don't think that's going to happen this season. He will most likely be #5 on the depth chart with McDonald and Sweed ahead of him. I have no doubt, however, that this kid is going to do great things for this offense if given the opportunity!

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