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Old 12-24-2009, 05:47 AM   #1
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Default Steelers' Wallace becoming draft-day steal

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt...s_659212.html#

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Steelers' Wallace becoming draft-day steal


By Scott Brown
PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, December 24, 2009

He leads the Steelers in yards per catch and has as many touchdown receptions as John Stallworth, Lynn Swann, Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes had in their first seasons combined.

To grasp how high Mike Wallace has set the bar just 14 games into his NFL career, consider quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's assessment of the rookie wideout's play last Sunday.

After Wallace caught a pair of touchdown passes in the Steelers' 37-36 win over the Green Bay Packers, Roethlisberger said, "You have to understand, Mike just had an OK game."

Fortunately for the Steelers, the same can't be said of the season Wallace is having.

He has caught 35 passes for 609 yards and five touchdowns, and the six-foot, 199-pounder is averaging almost 18 yards per catch.

The one thing that may be more impressive than the speed Wallace has flashed — Roethlisberger said he is still trying to adjust to it — is his timing.

Wallace's 19-yard touchdown catch on the final play of the game against the Packers may have saved the Steelers' season. On a larger scale, he has stepped seamlessly into the role of the No. 3 wide receiver that Nate Washington filled before signing with the Tennessee Titans last March.

What is also notable about his emergence: Wallace is the first Steeler who is not a specialist to make an impact as a rookie since Mike Tomlin took over as coach in 2007.

"His production for a rookie is way beyond what I thought it would be," Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said.

"From the second he got here, he's very mature football-wise, and you can see how he's played since the first game of the season," added Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall.

It may be premature to say the Steelers got a steal when they took Wallace in the third round of the NFL Draft last April.

There is, however, mounting evidence that some kind of theft occurred when the Steelers grabbed Wallace with the 84th overall pick in the draft.

Of the 15 wide receivers taken in the first three rounds of the draft, 10 were selected ahead of Wallace, even though he led the SEC in yards per catch his final two seasons and ran a blistering 4.33 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine last February.

"I never had any doubt that once I got my opportunity I was going to make the most of it," Wallace said.

He had a similar belief in his abilities while at Ole Miss.

His position coach found that out one game when Wallace came to the sidelines and groused about getting disrespected.

"I'm thinking they're poking him in the eye or punching him in the stomach or something," said Ole Miss wide receiver coach Ron Dickerson Jr. "He's talking about because they're (only) playing him eight yards off (the line of scrimmage). It wasn't an arrogant Mike saying that. It was just Mike confident in what he could do."

He is not the only one who feels that way.

Roethlisberger has come to expect so much from Wallace that he does anything but treat him with kid gloves.

Wallace found that out a couple of plays before his game-winning catch last Sunday, which evoked memories of Holmes' one-for-the-ages grab at the end of Super Bowl XLIII.

Roethlisberger chided the rookie for not going all out on a pass pattern even though Wallace had sustained a laceration on his right knee earlier in the game.

Roethlisberger got the desired response he wanted when Wallace snared his last-second pass in the left side of the end zone before falling out of bounds.

The gash on his knee, which required three stitches to close, may limit Wallace in practice this week. But he said he will be fine for the game Sunday against the visiting Ravens.

And Roethlisberger expects him to be better than just OK as Wallace gets more experience.

"He's going to continue to improve and grow," Roethlisberger said. "The sky's the limit for him."

Scott Brown can be reached at sbrown@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.
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Old 12-24-2009, 06:01 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers' Wallace becoming draft-day steal

Nice read on Wallace. I think everyone is loving the way this kid is playing this year. We have two receivers with a 1,000 yards and then there is Wallace with 35 catches with 609 yards an 18 yard average. Wow what more could you ask for in there first year. I think we have found Wards replacement when he retires.
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Old 12-24-2009, 06:38 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers' Wallace becoming draft-day steal

Hard to believe our 3 have more yardage than the "vaunted" Cardinals' 3. Just goes to show that the only stat that matters is Ws.

Great read. Thanks!!
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Old 12-24-2009, 09:11 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers' Wallace becoming draft-day steal

Becoming a draft day steal? I'd say he had already cemented the fact that he was a steal....and now he's just getting better
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Old 12-24-2009, 02:27 PM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers' Wallace becoming draft-day steal

Its real simple... anyone with great speed combined with great hands is gonna rule... I would like to know what's his catch to drop ratio compared with other receivers in the NFL ...
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Old 12-24-2009, 02:30 PM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers' Wallace becoming draft-day steal

can he be our future number 1 reciever and not santonio holmes??
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Old 12-24-2009, 02:57 PM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers' Wallace becoming draft-day steal

When you have receivers like Ward and Holmes on the team and the third WR still gets noticed you know he is doing something right!
He is a speed deep threat with the talent of a 4 year vet and I am confident his skills will only grow being under the wing of Ward and Holmes for a few seasons. He is not ****y or have an attitude he just runs his plays and shuts his mouth thats what I love about this kid!
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Old 12-24-2009, 03:19 PM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers' Wallace becoming draft-day steal

Yeah, I thought the kid was going to be able to stretch the field with his speed, but take a couple years to improve his route running, since it was pretty sloppy at Ole Miss. Nice pickup in the 3rd. I was hoping for Johnny Knox, but am very pleased with Wallace.
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Old 12-24-2009, 03:54 PM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers' Wallace becoming draft-day steal

Quote:
It may be premature to say the Steelers got a steal when they took Wallace in the third round of the NFL Draft last April.

There is, however, mounting evidence that some kind of theft occurred when the Steelers grabbed Wallace with the 84th overall pick in the draft.
Kudos to "whosever" idea it was to grab him.
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Old 12-24-2009, 03:57 PM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers' Wallace becoming draft-day steal

nates stats.... 37 rec....447 yds.....12.1 avg.....6 tds
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