The end is drawing near. Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace is expected to report to the Steelers Tuesday morning to sign his $2.7 million tender, and begin practice with the team.
If you ask me, I say it’s about time! Unfortunately, I think that Wallace’s holdout will prevent him from having the season that he is capable of having.
Since entering the NFL in 2009, the speedy receiver has the most touchdowns for 20-plus yards with 19.
This long hiatus from football has put the Pro Bowl receiver in a position where he has to do a lot of catching up in such a small period of time. It’s evident that Wallace won’t get a chance to get acclimated to the actual speed of the game prior to the start of the regular season. The NFL’s new collection bargaining agreement will prohibit Wallace from participating in the preseason finale versus the Carolina Panthers this Thursday due to a three-day acclimation period.
Another thing that will work against Wallace this season is Pittsburgh’s new offensive scheme. Todd Haley, Pittsburgh’s new offensive coordinator, has a playbook that is vastly different from what the Steelers were use to last season, when Wallace lead the team with 72 receptions for 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns.
It is because of this new offense, Wallace’s absence from organized team activities and training camp, and the great play of fellow receiver Antonio Brown that I believe the four-year veteran will not be the Steelers’ leading receiver this season.
Brown has made big plays in the offense all preseason, and will more than likely be Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite target for at least the first part of the regular season.
If Pittsburgh still had Bruce Arians as offensive coordinator, then Wallace would have had a much better chance of coming in and making a major impact on offense. However, even though he isn’t up to speed with the playbook, his speed on the field is considered a threat to defenses, and will help stretch the field, and give more opportunities for Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Jerricho Cotchery, and the running game.
It’s safe to say that head coach Mike Tomlin won’t put Wallace into the starting lineup anytime soon, but I do see him getting significant playing time.
I feel that Wallace’s decision not report to the team earlier will have an effect on not only the team, but on his career as well. It’s still not clear on how productive the Steelers’ running game will be coming into the regular season. Hopefully Wallace will be productive enough to allow the ground attack to be more productive.
As for Wallace’s career, not getting accustomed to a new offense could slow his maturation process in becoming an all-around receiver. In addition, his coming back doesn’t guarantee that a long-term deal will be reached between Wallace and the Steelers organization. This holdout could have possibly been the beginning of the end for Wallace as a Steeler.
I sincerely hope that Wallace does return this season in Pro Bowl form, and he proves to the entire franchise that he is worth a long-term contract.
It would have been much better had he been a part of the team much sooner, but better late than never.
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