Mike Wallace: Average Going Down, Potential For Pittsburgh Steelers Going Up?

TJ JenkinsAnalyst IDecember 13, 2010

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 12:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 and Mike Wallace #17 of the Pittsburgh Steelers argue with the referee about a possible penalty during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals on December 12, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Mike Wallace, the Pittsburgh Steelers second-year wide receiver, is known for his explosive first step and his ability to maintain his speed throughout the play, but his average yards per reception is steadily decreasing. For Pittsburgh, that's not a bad thing.

Wallace still has the ability to make the big play, there is absolutely no doubt about that, but he's added another skill to his repertoire, the ability to go over the middle and make the tough catch. A skill, I'm sure, that is nearly 100 percent accreditable to teammate and Super Bowl XL Most Valuable Player, Hines Ward.

Perhaps the scariest thing about Wallace, when looking at him from an opposing team's perspective, is that, quite frankly, he's nearly unstoppable. If you give him a cushion to prevent the deep play, Roethlisberger will recognize it and audible to a Wallace curl. Wallace, in turn, will catch it short, make a move and still get the big play off. Essentially, it's like selling your car for gas money where the defense is concerned. His ability to make something out of nothing is an asset that is sorely needed in today's NFL, where defenses are quicker than they've ever been.

If all goes well for the Steelers through the regular season and into the post-season, Wallace could join the list of Steelers wide receivers to be named the Most Valuable Player of the biggest game there is—the Super Bowl. But, that's yet to be seen, and I'll allow the team to do the talking for me on that account.

Wallace is an exceptional talent at the wide receiver position and, according to some, the fastest player in the league. I don't doubt this at all, having seen the way he blows by the quickest of the quick in the defensive backfields of some of the NFL's best defenses. He is the ultimate complement to Hines Ward and the number one reason why I was not concerned in the least with the departure of Santonio Holmes.

Currently, Wallace is a mere 54 yards away from achieving his first 1,000 yard receiving season and is only four catches away from having 50 on the year.

He is currently leading the Steelers in all but one receiving category this season. Hines Ward is leading the team in receptions with 49, only three more than Wallace.

Perhaps the best thing for the team and the fans is that the former Ole Miss receiver is still very young and still very raw in terms of talent. Sure, he's the Steelers big play man and their deep threat, but can he eventually become their best route runner? Can he carry on Ward's mantra of putting the same effort into blocking that one does for receiving?

Perhaps. Personally, I believe that the sky is the limit for Wallace, and as much as he's done already, he will only get better, only get smarter and one day we will be talking about him when we discuss the great Steelers wide receivers of the past.