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Old 02-05-2011, 08:11 AM   #1
mesaSteeler
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Default A key matchup: Steelers WR Mike Wallace vs. Packers CB Sam Shields

A key matchup: Steelers WR Mike Wallace vs. Packers CB Sam Shields
Saturday, February 05, 2011
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

ARLINGTON, Texas

It has been a quiet postseason for Mike Wallace, both on the field and with his mouth.

He has only four catches for 26 yards in two playoff games, meager totals for a player who had a team-high 1,257 yards receiving and led the AFC with a per-catch average of 21 yards during the regular season.

He has been reluctant to voice the confident tone and repeat some of the bold declarations he made in the regular season, when he caught 10 touchdown passes -- six of 41 yards or longer.

This is about the closest he has come during Super Bowl week:

When asked the first thing that goes through his head when he gets single coverage, he said, "I'm just hoping the safety isn't going to come over the top, but I know most of the time it's going to be like that."

On the key to beating single coverage, he said: "Knowing that you can't be stopped by the other guy. You have to have confidence, first and foremost, and you have to have good technique. You have to be able to watch film and attack the guy's weaknesses like that."

And, finally, on the Green Bay cornerbacks he will be facing Sunday in Super Bowl XLV: "They're really good. They have one of the best corner tandems in the league, for sure."

The Packers' best cover corner is Tramon Williams, who was waived by the Houston Texans and signed as a free agent in 2009. His rapid development this season is one of the reasons the Packers were second in the NFC with 24 interceptions. Williams has nine interceptions in 19 games this season, including three in the postseason.

But their fastest corner is rookie Sam Shields, an undrafted free agent who has been timed between 4.2 and 4.3 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Even though the Packers don't typically assign a cornerback to follow a specific receiver, it is possible they could do that by assigning Shields, a converted wide receiver, to run with Wallace, especially in single coverage.

Shields is not a starter in the Packers' base 3-4 defense, but he lines up on the outside when they switch to their nickel package, which they play 75 percent of the time.

"I'm a fast guy and he's a fast guy," Shields said. "It's going to be a big challenge and I can't wait."

The Jets did that in the AFC title game, assigning their fastest corner, Antonio Cromartie, to follow Wallace. And it worked because Wallace had one catch for 6 yards.

Wallace was a nonfactor in the divisional playoff victory against the Baltimore Ravens, too, managing just three catches for 20 yards. This from a player who had seven 100-yard receiving games in the regular season.

Asked if the Packers have the best secondary he has faced, veteran receiver Hines Ward said: "No, the New York Jets had the best tandem. The Packers, no disrespect to them, they do have a great secondary, but I think [Darrelle] Revis and Cromartie, those two cornerbacks -- I don't know what your opinion is, but they're the best tandem of cornerbacks out there."

Sounds like something Mike Wallace would say.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11036...#ixzz1D5cg7wBa
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