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    Default Wallace has many tricks

    Wallace has many tricks
    By: John Perrotto
    Beaver County Times
    Thursday February 3, 2011

    FORT WORTH, Texas — The NFL has handed out seemingly every award possible with every corporate sponsor possible during Super Bowl week.

    One award the NFL doesn’t bestow, though, is most improved player. If it did, Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace would be a prime candidate.

    Now that is not to say Wallace was a stiff last season in his rookie year. He caught 39 passes for 756 yards and six touchdowns, and showed big-play ability as he averaged 19.4 yards a reception.

    In the NFL, coaches always say that a player makes his biggest strides between his rookie and second seasons. That has certainly been the case with Wallace.

    Wallace has gone from a receiver who can get the occasional big gainer to a reliable member of the starting lineup, stepping in for the traded Santonio Holmes without the Steelers’ offense suffering.

    Wallace led the team in receiving in the regular season with 60 catches for 1,257 yards, a 20.4 average and 10 touchdowns.

    If there is one player on the Steelers’ offense that has the chance to turn the Super Bowl around with one big play, it is Wallace.

    However, it goes beyond statistics with the Steelers’ third-round draft pick in 2009 from Mississippi. He is more than just the one-trick pony of his rookie year when he was pretty much limited to using his sprinter’s speed to run deep routes.

    “Mike is a one-and-a-half trick pony now,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said with a smile Wednesday.

    Wallace has gotten better in all phases of the game, from running more precise routes to being more willing to catch the ball in traffic to blocking. Tomlin knows that but still doesn’t like to give Wallace too much credit yet.

    “We as coaches will pull anything as a motivational ploy,” Tomlin said. “Mike understands that. Mike has a physical distinguishing characteristic. Of course, he’s able to take the top off the coverage. I’m just in my way trying to encourage him to be a complete player. He has a desire to do that. He wants to be a great player.

    “We all know that if he is going too that, it is going to be because he has a complete, well-rounded game.”

    Wallace was considered a special talent coming out of college. He was not, however, considered a can’t-miss player because of his lack of polish.

    Yet Wallace says he is not surprised that he is approaching stardom after just two years in the league. In fact, in a non-arrogant way, he feels he’s earned it, especially by paying to the attention set by veteran wideout Hines Ward.

    “I know how hard I work every day,” Wallace said. “I put in a lot of work and I really learn from the older guys like Hines, especially Hines, and take everything they have and put it in my arsenal. So, I think if you pay attention along with your natural ability then things can come a lot quicker than people think.”

    Ward is the Steelers’ all-time leading receiver, having amassed 954 catches. Wallace has a long way to go to catch Ward but he sure seems intent on making a run at him.

    http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sp...ny-tricks.html
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    Default Re: Wallace has many tricks

    Steelers' Wallace digging deep for more tricks
    Big-play threat has been quiet in playoffs, wants to change that

    Thursday, February 03, 2011
    By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    FORT WORTH, Texas -- Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, always looking for a distinct edge in sharpening his players, began teasing wide receiver Mike Wallace with the nickname "One Trick" in the summer.

    As in "one-trick pony."

    As in, all the guy does is sprint straight routes down the field, boom or bust.

    Wallace grasped the humor at the time, but he also aimed to change it.

    "I don't like it," was his comeback then. "Unleash me. That's all."

    The unleashed Wallace -- given a greater role after the Santonio Holmes trade -- raised his reception total from 39 as a rookie to 60 this season, his yards from 756 to 1,257, his touchdowns from 6 to 10. And yes, he maintained that one trick, too, with 26 catches of 20-plus yards, most in the NFL.

    [IMGR]http://i54.tinypic.com/jiho3k.jpg[/IMGR]"OK, now I can call him 'One-and-a-half-trick pony," Tomlin said with a broad smile Wednesday morning before the Steelers practiced on the campus of Texas Christian University. "He's still that rare player who can take the top off of the coverage, but he's shown he wants to be a great all-around player. He's going to have a chance to do that now."

    If that sounds as if Tomlin is not done sending messages, consider the message received.

    "I don't like it," Wallace said about a half-hour later when asked of the extra half added to his bag of tricks. "But I know it's all motivation. I just try to go out every week and prove him wrong. Then, maybe he'll have to come up with a new nickname for me. I've scored touchdowns and made plays all different ways ever since he's said it, and he's still calling me the same name. I don't think it's going to change until next year."

    The playoffs, though, have seen even that one trick vanish: Mostly double-covered by the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets, Wallace has caught only four passes for 26 yards, and 20 of those yards came on one catch.

    Any guesses as to how the Green Bay Packers might approach Wallace in Super Bowl XLV Sunday at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington?

    Not so fast.

    Dom Capers, the Packers' defensive coordinator, uses a 3-4 scheme like the Steelers, and he tends not to engage in many nickel packages. Moreover, cornerback Sam Shields has spoken openly this week of being the man to shadow Wallace, saying Tuesday, "I'm a fast guy, and he's a fast guy. It's going to be a big challenge, and I can't wait."

    Neither can Wallace, it is safe to say, if that is the Packers' approach.

    "We've been watching film, and they like to put their guys in one-on-one situations," Wallace said. "They have a lot of confidence in their guys, and rightfully so. I don't know. Hopefully, they will, but we'll see."

    And can anyone in Green Bay's secondary keep up with Wallace?

    "I don't know. We'll see on Sunday," he replied. "They say they do, but I don't think so."

    Shields and the other corner, Tramon Williams, are fine athletes, but ...

    "Ain't nobody got Wallace's speed," Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor said. "I mean nobody."

    So, what will be the key to elevating Wallace's output, finally, in these playoffs?

    The Steelers are of the mind that Wallace still has done a decent job of getting open, but the extra coverage has prompted quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to look elsewhere. That has allowed youngsters Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown to boost their profiles, as well as the continued involvement of Hines Ward and tight end Heath Miller.

    But Super Bowls are the time for big players to make big plays, not to serve as elaborate decoys. And Wallace seems to embrace that, recalling Steelers of the past who shined under the brightest lights such as Lynn Swann, John Stallworth and Holmes.

    "Those are big shoes," Wallace said. "I think about it all the time: If I can get that MVP, it means we won the game."

    And what kind of play would bring that?

    "If I could give you a 98-yard play in the Super Bowl, it's on."

    In the same breath, he also seemed to accept that, if Green Bay really wants to take him out of the equation, his role would change.

    "Hey, if I have to run down the field and take two guys with me, that's going to leave Ben all kinds of other options. But I'm not worried about that at all, and that's not how I'm going into this. I'll still make plays. I'll need three guys to stop me from making plays, not just two."

    Might that be tough to take for someone used to producing?

    "Sure, it is. The whole thing has been tough. When you've been used to going against one guy most of the time and now it's two, you have to do different things with your routes because you're trying to get away from two guys. But I'll attack them the same way I always attack: Use my speed. Run my routes as fast as I can, and I think I'll be fine."

    He grinned.

    "But you know what? It means I'm coming up. That's all. Just means more people are paying attention."

    If that happens again, the rest sound ready to adjust.

    "We know Mike's kind of depending on me and Antonio and Hines to get open," Sanders said. "When a guy's getting double-teamed, the responsibility falls on the other receivers. I know Mike has complete faith in me and Antonio, and we're going to do everything we can to open up the defense."

    "There are two ways to beat it," veteran receiver Antwaan Randle El said. "You either make plays yourself, no matter the coverage, or have your compadres make some plays. Emmanuel's made plays. Antonio's made plays. They can take away one of us, but can they take away all of us?"

    Perhaps not, which is why Miller suggested that a short-yardage adjustment might be in order.

    "Mike's a big-play threat, and he's made huge plays throughout the season," Miller said. "But, in the playoffs, I think teams have made a point not to let us have that home run ball. When that happens, the underneath guys kind of have to go to work and get our yards maybe in 15- or 20-yard chunks."

    Of course, Wallace is capable of those sized chunks, too, having learned from Ward to run better routes, to come back to Roethlisberger when he is scrambling and to become the more complete player Tomlin and the staff had hoped to see.

    "I'm proud of that," Wallace said. "I used to just run fast all the time. He taught me how to slow things down a little sometimes. I owe a lot to Hines."

    He also will have a ring to match Ward's two, if he and the Steelers are successful Sunday.

    "Yeah, I'm geeked up! Can't wait!" Wallace said. "I'm ready to go out there right now and just enjoy it for myself and for my team. The biggest thing is coming away with seven trophies for the Steelers. I don't care what kind of numbers I end up on my own."

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11034/1122673-66.stm
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    Default Re: Wallace has many tricks

    That's why he's gonna be the MVP!

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    Default Re: Wallace has many tricks

    Quote Originally Posted by Stone View Post
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    That's why he's gonna be the MVP!
    ... I wouldn't mind it one bit... But I'd also like to see Ben get it just for the confrontation on the podium after the game...
    "You only have one life, and you will not get out alive. Make the most of your time and have no regrets." - Me.

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    Default Re: Wallace has many tricks

    Quote Originally Posted by NKySteeler View Post
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    ... I wouldn't mind it one bit... But I'd also like to see Ben get it just for the confrontation on the podium after the game...
    Yeah....actually I would like that better...Wallace has plenty of time to get his!

    But I did have the premonition so..........................

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    Default Re: Wallace has many tricks

    A key matchup: Steelers WR Mike Wallace vs. Packers CB Sam Shields

    Saturday, February 05, 2011
    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette



    Andy Lyons/Getty Images
    Packers cornerback Sam Shields.


    ARLINGTON, Texas

    It has been a quiet postseason for Mike Wallace, both on the field and with his mouth.

    He has only four catches for 26 yards in two playoff games, meager totals for a player who had a team-high 1,257 yards receiving and led the AFC with a per-catch average of 21 yards during the regular season.

    He has been reluctant to voice the confident tone and repeat some of the bold declarations he made in the regular season, when he caught 10 touchdown passes -- six of 41 yards or longer.

    This is about the closest he has come during Super Bowl week:

    When asked the first thing that goes through his head when he gets single coverage, he said, "I'm just hoping the safety isn't going to come over the top, but I know most of the time it's going to be like that."

    On the key to beating single coverage, he said: "Knowing that you can't be stopped by the other guy. You have to have confidence, first and foremost, and you have to have good technique. You have to be able to watch film and attack the guy's weaknesses like that."

    And, finally, on the Green Bay cornerbacks he will be facing Sunday in Super Bowl XLV: "They're really good. They have one of the best corner tandems in the league, for sure."

    The Packers' best cover corner is Tramon Williams, who was waived by the Houston Texans and signed as a free agent in 2009. His rapid development this season is one of the reasons the Packers were second in the NFC with 24 interceptions. Williams has nine interceptions in 19 games this season, including three in the postseason.

    But their fastest corner is rookie Sam Shields, an undrafted free agent who has been timed between 4.2 and 4.3 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Even though the Packers don't typically assign a cornerback to follow a specific receiver, it is possible they could do that by assigning Shields, a converted wide receiver, to run with Wallace, especially in single coverage.

    Shields is not a starter in the Packers' base 3-4 defense, but he lines up on the outside when they switch to their nickel package, which they play 75 percent of the time.

    "I'm a fast guy and he's a fast guy," Shields said. "It's going to be a big challenge and I can't wait."

    The Jets did that in the AFC title game, assigning their fastest corner, Antonio Cromartie, to follow Wallace. And it worked because Wallace had one catch for 6 yards.

    Wallace was a nonfactor in the divisional playoff victory against the Baltimore Ravens, too, managing just three catches for 20 yards. This from a player who had seven 100-yard receiving games in the regular season.

    Asked if the Packers have the best secondary he has faced, veteran receiver Hines Ward said: "No, the New York Jets had the best tandem. The Packers, no disrespect to them, they do have a great secondary, but I think [Darrelle] Revis and Cromartie, those two cornerbacks -- I don't know what your opinion is, but they're the best tandem of cornerbacks out there."

    Sounds like something Mike Wallace would say.

    Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11036...#ixzz1D6nMkTvm

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