Mike Wallace, a 4.33 40 time and a late 3rd rounder in the 2009 draft emerged as a hero during the Steelers' last 3 games in December of last year; against the Dolphins, Ravens and the vaunted Green Bay Packers.
The Rookie caught a TD with the first as well as last offensive play of the game. With just 3 seconds left to go, and the Steelers needing a TD for the win, Wallace was clutch, while being covered and smothered in the endzone.
A serious deep-threat, Wallace provides a great complement to the aging Hines Ward in the starting lineup.
Wallace’s 39 catches for 756 yards and six touchdowns during his rookie season, was enough for him to lead the league with more than 19 yards per reception; he has an uncanny ability to stretch the field.
Steelers are hoping the second year receiver from Ole Miss, can pick up where Holmes left off on the field, not off the field.
Wallace owes a lot of his quick development to having Hines ward and Santonio Holmes as his mentors. It is no wonder Wallace is looking exceptional in Camp this season. Byron Leftwich only needed one practice to realize that, Holmes may not be that sorely missed this season.
"I learned how to be a pro, coming in every day and working and never being satisfied with a good game or having one good week," Wallace said. "If you're hanging onto that, you're going to get whipped. Every day's a new day, that's the main thing."
"Anything I do, he's watching," Wallace said of Ward this week. "So it's kind of hard to be perfect with Hines out here."
"That's the nature of the business," Wallace said. "One guy's out and the next day I have to step in."
"Sometimes the (top) guys lined up on me, but for the most part they were on Santonio or Hines," Wallace said. "But I'm always ready for a challenge. I don't feel like I'm afraid of anybody, I don't fear anybody and they go to work just like I go to work. I'm going to be ready for them, just like they're going to be ready for me."
"I feel like they believe I can do the same things Santonio did," Wallace said. "I don't feel like there's anything Santonio did that I can't do. I'm still running some of the routes I ran last year, it's just that I have more of them to run."
"We all know what Santonio can do," said Leftwich, who is running the first-team offence during Ben Roethlisberger's absence. "Mike, he's running by a lot of people. He's got speed that not a lot of people have. We haven't seen that in the league a lot. There's only a few people who can run like that."
“I’m always looking forward to the challenge. What I did was last year, that was my rookie year. I was looking to take a step forward anyway.”
“Without ‘Tone here, that’s one less leader we have…so it’s time for someone else to step up and, hopefully, it will be me.”
With Byron Leftwich looking to take this opportunity and break out this season due to Ben Roethlisberger being suspended for possibly 6 games, and the Steelers looking to reemphasize the running game this season, well it all just reinforces Wallaces status as a sleeper.
"We know what type of business we're in and we're ready to roll with whoever in," Wallace said. "It's always going to be hard when he's not here, but we've got to keep rolling. I feel like when he comes back, we're going to pick up where we left off."
"When you think of Mike, you think of a deep threat," quarterback Dennis Dixon said. "Whenever you go up top with Mike, you've got to be sure to release it early because he can outrun your arm."
"They're all good quarterbacks, so it doesn't really matter to me," Wallace said. "Anyone of them lines up, I'll be ready to go."