Steelers receiver Wallace working out in Florida
Maybe a night's worth of watching screen passes and quarterback scrambles convinced Mike Wallace he is better off catching passes in Pittsburgh than Orlando, Fla.
Wallace is training extensively in Florida and likely will report to Steelers training camp in the near future, according to the conditioning coach who has been working out the holdout receiver for the past two weeks.
“It has got to be pretty soon,” said conditioning coach Tom Shaw, contrasting reports that Wallace might not show up until well into the NFL season. “(The Steelers) aren't just going to let him sit out there.”
Shaw, ending several weeks of silence by the Wallace camp, told the Tribune-Review on Friday that Wallace knows “it's not a good thing to be out of camp. … The Steelers want him to come to camp. They're a great organization.”
Wallace, a downfield receiving threat who is coming off successive 1,000-yard seasons, couldn't negotiate a multiyear contract as a restricted free agent before training camp began July 25. When Wallace didn't report, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert cautioned the team wouldn't budge from its policy of not negotiating with an absent player.
The Steelers want Wallace to sign his $2.7 million tender and report before they reopen talks with agent Bus Cook on a multiyear deal. However, if Wallace signs the tender, the Steelers could retain him by making him their franchise player next season.
“He's been holding out because he feels he's given three good years to the Steelers, and you have only so much time to make money (in the NFL),” Shaw said.
Two days after camp started, the Steelers gave a $42.5 million contract to receiver Antonio Brown, who has made only three career starts.
Without Wallace, the Steelers' revamped offense moved the ball steadily but not spectacularly during a 24-23 preseason loss to the Eagles on Thursday night. Ben Roethlisberger didn't attempt a single deep pass during the 16-play drive that started the game.
Shaw, who works with players such as Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor at the Disney Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, said Wallace isn't talking to the media because his demands are being misrepresented.
“He gets mad when people write things that are totally false,” Shaw said. “He doesn't want a $100 million contract, a $50 million contract. He's never told anybody that. He knows the Steelers aren't talking, and he's not talking, so it gets him upset and he doesn't want to talk (publicly).”
Wallace is working out just as if he were in camp, except for the lack of contact, Shaw said.
“He's fast as lightning right now,” Shaw said. “He's not going to put himself in a bad situation (conditioning-wise) so that he couldn't play in the first game.”
While Wallace apparently hasn't talked to the Steelers since camp began, Shaw said the receiver willingly chatted with several Pittsburgh-based youth teams who worked out at the Disney complex.
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.