If Benched, Pittsburgh Steelers WR Mike Wallace Should Still Play Big Minutes

By Clyde A. Speller

Lately there have been talks of Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace not starting in Week 13 against the Baltimore Ravens. Looking at the numbers that Wallace put up the past three games, I can see why some believe that he should be demoted. However, even if Wallace is scratched from the starting lineup, he should still play a significant role in the offense.

Over the past three games, Wallace only has eight catches for 47 receiving yards and one touchdown. The Pro Bowl receiver’s numbers didn’t start declining until quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was sidelined due to injury.

Backup quarterback Byron Leftwich then came and played virtually an entire game with broken ribs, limiting his play. Then third-string quarterback Charlie Batch took over and seemed out of touch with the offense. So I wouldn’t throw Wallace under the bus so quickly. If Wallace played like this with Roethlisberger still under center, then I’d be worried.

Let’s say that Batch does start in Week 13. Everyone says that he doesn’t have a very strong arm, which I think is good considering the type of passing game the Steelers have been displaying all season long. The “ding-and-dunk” approach in the passing game is what Pittsburgh has used to compensate for their lack of a running game. Even though the Steelers have all of their running backs healthy, I still won’t put much faith in the ground attack due to significant injuries to the offensive line.

Furthermore, this style of offense has made Wallace more of a possession receiver this season, and his speed can still be a threat in the short passing game. If you don’t believe me, just look back at the 51-yard catch and run for a touchdown versus the New York Giants in Week 9.

Even the presence of Wallace puts the thought of him going deep in the mind of the opposing defense, which will open up more opportunities for others with in Pittsburgh’s offense.

I do feel that fellow receiver Emmanuel Sanders has been very productive over the past couple of games, and starting him opposite Antonio Brown wouldn’t hurt. However, I do stand firm in my opinion. Regardless of whether Wallace is a starter, his playing time shouldn’t be decreased.

Follow me on Twitter @ClydeASpeller

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