Unless you live under a rock then you know that today is National Mike Wallace Day for the Steeler Nation. Really that’s about how it went this morning from the time that the sun rose there were local and national media camped out at Steelers headquarters waiting for Steelers Receiver Mike Wallace to arrive. It was something to behold for anyone following the Twitter accounts of any local Steelers media, ESPN, and NFL Network.
As was posted up earlier today, Wallace arrived at the facility around 11:30am EST and was escorted in by Steelers security personnel and PR officials and immediately went back to the locker room. At that point he signed his 1 yr. $2.74 million contract and was fitted for his equipment for this season. He was not allowed to practice today and also cannot play in the final preseason game on Thursday night against the Panthers.
Mike Tomlin said that Wallace’s status is uncertain at this point for the Denver game. He also was asked about the status of Wallace’s contract: @CBSSportsNFLPIT: “Those discussions haven’t been had and really probably won’t be had in the next 24-48 hours.”
Wallace still hopes to work out a long term deal at some point: “That’s down the road. Hopefully I can. I would love to be here. This is the team that drafted me and this is where I want to stay. I am not really worried about down the road. I am worried about who is playing football right now. That’s it. That’s really the only thing on my mind. You all might think I am just saying that but that’s it. I am not worried about none of that. That was business. I am not on that right now. I am here to play football, that’s it. I am here with my teammates and happy to see the guys. There was a lot of smiles and a lot of love and that’s all that matters.”
It’s not likely, at least not in my opinion that we’ll ever get much more out of him on this holdout situation. He’s looking towards the future now. The Steelers would prefer that no more media surround him than what their already is and if there is going to be more talks about a long term deal they’ll get it done as they see fit.
As far as learning the offense goes, Wallace has had a playbook in his hands since earlier in the offseason and has been in regular contact with Recievers Coach Scottie Montgomery, as tweeted out by Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review: Emmanuel Sanders on Wallace: “He showed up during the OTAs and got the playbook. He and Scottie Montgomery have been talking.” #steelers
The issue of him knowing the plays was never a big concern for most, learning an NFL playbook is something these guys are used too. Plus when you factor in the contact that he’s had with his position coach and players on the team, he’ll be fine for the most part in that regard.
Wallace spent the offseason working out with renown trainer Tom Shaw, who works with Ike Taylor among other athletes, so his physical condition shouldn’t be that much of an issue either. Training condition is not the same as football condition but that can be worked on in the coming weeks. He addressed that question among others today: “You mustn’t have heard I don’t have hamstrings. I don’t worry about that. I am going to stretch real good. I don’t think like that. I don’t think about getting hurt. I am ready to play ball. If that happens, that just happens. That happens to all types of people. I am in good shape so I am not worried about that.”
The real issue will be how quickly he can get his timing down with Ben Roethlisberger and the rest of the receivers on his routes. Running a deep route with a guy who has the speed that Wallace does is something that just needs repetition to get down again after an entire offseason of inactivity from a team organized perspective. There’s bound to be some miscues early on when he takes the field in games; overthrown balls, underthrown, dropped passes, etc. Just be prepared for it so you don’t blow a gasket when it happens.
Ryan Clark tweeted out this afternoon that Wallace is going to have to catch on quickly this season because if you want that big contact, you have to produce. This is true, but while Wallace may not have to have 150 yds and 3 TDs in Denver to ultimately get a long term deal in Pittsburgh or somewhere else, he will need to have a big year regardless.
A few highlights from the big day at Steelers headquarters include a short video clip of Wallace talking to the media after practice today, courtesy of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review on site and also a transcript of the questions Wallace answered for the media. Link Here
Basically what it comes down to is that Wallace isn’t going to feed the media anything more than he wants too and he’s not going to dwell on the past. He’s happy to be back and from a fan perspective it’s nice to have him back on the team. How things are handled from here remains to be seen, from his playing time early in the season to his contract, it’s hurry up and wait again….haven’t we been down this road already?