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Wallace, Farrior earn honors from Steelers

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Scott Brown
Thursday, Dec. 31, 2009
 

Wide receiver Mike Wallace was named the Steelers' top rookie Wednesday while inside linebacker James Farrior received the honor that is named after team founder Art Rooney.

Farrior, a 13th-year veteran, won the "Chief Award" for his cooperation with the local media. The award is voted on by local members of the Pro Football Writers Association.

Past winners include Ryan Clark, Alan Faneca, Deshea Townsend, Brett Keisel and Hines Ward.

"I've been around this league a long time," Farrior said, "and I understand you've got to take the good with the bad."

Wallace hasn't been around nearly as long but the third-round draft pick has made quite an impact on the Steelers.

Wallace leads the Steelers in yards per catch (18.7), and his 692 receiving yards are the most among rookies in the AFC. In winning the "Joe Greene Great Performance Award" in a unanimous vote, Wallace joins a list of past honorees that includes Santonio Holmes, Heath Miller, Ben Roethlisberger and Troy Polamalu.

"I think I have a long way to go," said Wallace, who admittedly is still learning the Steelers' offense. "I'm going to get a lot better in the offseason."

» Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu practiced on a limited basis Wednesday but later conceded that time may be running out on his bid to return to the field this season. Polamalu has missed the last six games with a strained posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) in his left knee. He said he needs to practice at least once to be able to play Sunday in the 1 p.m. game against the Dolphins.

"Truthfully it feels a lot better than it did last week, so there's some progress being made," said Polamalu, who needs to show he can cut on the knee he has hurt twice this season before playing on it. "(Today) we'll see how it feels and hopefully it gets better and better and my body's able to adjust."

Polamalu said if he does not get a full practice in today that doesn't necessarily mean he won't play against the Dolphins.

"I've only practiced on Fridays and played before," the five-time Pro Bowler said.

» Wide receiver Hines Ward (hamstring), defensive end Brett Keisel (neck), defensive end Travis Kirschke (calf) and left guard Chris Kemoeatu (wrist) didn't practice yesterday because of injuries. Ward is nursing hamstring injuries in both legs. Before rushing to a meeting following practice, Ward said, "Am I playing• How do I feel• Good." Inside linebacker James Farrior didn't practice yesterday as coach Mike Tomlin gave him a veteran's day off.

» Running back Willie Parker said he is "definitely playing this week" despite a shoulder injury that limited him in practice yesterday. Tomlin said Tuesday that the injury would keep Parker from playing against the Dolphins. Kemoeatu said he is hopeful that his left wrist will be strong enough for him to play Sunday. Kemoeatu, who has missed the last two games, said he will try to practice today.

DIGITS

2 — Stefan Logan's rank among AFC kickoff returners with an average of 26.6 yards

73 — Combined points in which the Steelers have outscored the opposition in the first half this season

QUOTABLE

"Some people say I started off slow this year. I'm playing pretty strong in the second half. It's kind of a popularity-type thing to me." — Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley on not making the Pro Bowl despite having 11.5 sacks, third most in the AFC.

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