Panthers vs. Steelers: How Inactivity Affects Mike Wallace

Alex KayCorrespondent IAugust 30, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 24:  Mike Wallace #17 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs after the catch against the St. Louis Rams during the game on December 24, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The Steelers won 27-0.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Mike Wallace has finally ended his holdout and is returning to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he’s reportedly not allowed to play in the fourth and final preseason contest against the Carolina Panthers, according to Cindy Boren of the Washington Post.

Considering the 26-year-old wide receiver has yet to see any training camp action, he should have at least been willing to sign a few days earlier. This would have allowed him to bypass the three-day minimum waiting period to get on the gridiron in a game situation in order to prepare for next Sunday’s matchup against the Denver Broncos.

We’ve seen plenty of situations where a star player decides to hold out for the entirety of the exhibition schedule and simply didn’t produce at the level expected during the regular season.

Last year, Chris Johnson missed all of the Tennessee Titans training camp and preseason contests before signing a new deal in early September. He went on to have the worst statistical outing of his four-year career, gaining just 1,047 yards on the ground and scoring a paltry four touchdowns

While Johnson’s lack of success could be attributed to unfamiliarity with then-new head coach Mike Munchak’s system, he was clearly not in game shape and could have benefited from some reps in an exhibition game.

Wallace might still be physically fit, but getting in game shape and preparing the body for the rigors of an NFL campaign is a whole different animal.

New Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley seems to disagree, according to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"You're talking about a guy who's a wide receiver, a pass-catcher," Haley said. "It's not a running back or someone who has to be in the action of the game. I think it's feasible he's ready to go when we start this thing up."

While Haley might find it feasible, the reality is anything could happen on Sept. 9, when the Steelers take the field in Denver. He should certainly take into the account of CJ2k's struggles in a new system when assessing how he thinks Wallace will fare in his.

If Wallace were able suit up and play against the Panthers on Thursday night, the team--and especially Haley--would at least have some idea of just how ready he is for in-game action.