Share This Page

Steeler receiver Mike Wallace ready for increased role

Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace, the logical replacement for Santonio Holmes, expects to be a main object of opposing game plans for the first time in his NFL career.

"(I know) there's going to be double-teams now,'' said Wallace, a third-round draft pick in 2009. "With Santonio and Hines (Ward), a lot of that pressure was taken off (last season). I know I'm going against elite corners now.''

With his new role, comes new expectations for Wallace, who embraces the challenge.

"I think I can make a major jump — I'm trying to make it to the Pro Bowl this year,'' said Wallace, the fastest receiver on the team. "People are going to have their doubts, but I'm going to be ready.''

Wallace's rookie season was a pleasant surprise. He played more than anticipated in taking over for Nate Washington as the No. 3 receiver, catching 39 passes for a team-high 19.4-yard average and six touchdowns.

When the Steelers traded Holmes to the New York Jets for a fifth-round draft pick, Wallace realized he would have to accept more responsibility.

Known for his explosive bursts downfield, Wallace must refine other areas of his game to erase the stigma of being a one-dimensional (speed) receiver.

"Regardless if Santonio was here or not, I was going to be ready for a bigger role,'' Wallace said. "I learned a lot from Santonio, and I'm going to continue to learn from him, even though he's not here. But this is our team, and I'm developing my new role.

"I'm trying to take no steps back. I know we've lost a big-time player, but I'm trying to make the drop-off a lot easier on everybody.''

Wallace will be expected to play outside like Holmes, one of the league's best route-runners.

Ward normally lines up in the slot.

Instead of running straight downfield against nickel backs, Wallace will now have to free himself at the line of scrimmage against starting cornerbacks intent on jamming.

"Hines is a big technique guy," Wallace said. "He has a lot of tricks. Santonio's a big route runner. I learned a lot from him just about keeping my eyes forward, keeping my arms pumping and keeping my feet moving - giving a perception of different things. With that combination of the best of both worlds, I'm ready.''

Wallace is keeping all of his options open. He fielded punts during practice, the way Holmes used to do, in case he's asked to fill that role during the season.

Stefan Logan was the Steelers' punt returner last season.

At Ole Miss, Wallace holds school records for single game, season and career kickoff return yards.

"If they want me to return punts, I will," he said. "I haven't done it in a while, but I look to get better in every aspect - not just at receiver. I never did it during practice last year, but I'd do it after practice. This year, if they want me on the depth chart, I'm ready at any time for whatever.''

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.