Beep beep -- Wallace going home

Steelers' deep threat Mike Wallace would like to show his home folks a trick or four Sunday night against the Saints.

PITTSBURGH – Last year as a rookie, Mike Wallace led the NFL in yards per reception, 19.4, but this year he's off the charts, averaging 25.3.

If "The Kid," as he likes to call himself, amps it up by a couple more yards, he could finish with the Steelers' all-time team record … set by a University of Georgia product … number 86.

"Aw, not that guy," said the suddenly crestfallen Wallace, who must have something against Jimmy Orr.

As a rookie in 1958, Orr ran under Bobby Layne's bombs to the tune of 27.6 yards per catch.

"Oh," Wallace said. "I thought you were going to say Hines. I'm happy it's not him. He already thinks he's the man. That would just be over the top."

Wallace, who now lockers next to Hines Ward, likes to joke with his mentor. Ward jokes back.

"Well, they call him a one-trick pony," Ward teased.

If you want to hurt Wallace's feelings, call him a one-trick pony.

Coach Mike Tomlin does it after every game, on his way to the locker room, in front of reporters. "There's the one-trick pony," Tomlin says.

It's a mix of sarcasm for writers who echo the scouts who made Wallace a third-round draft pick in 2009 because he allegedly could do only one thing as a wide receiver: run deep.

But Tomlin's also motivating "The Kid" with those words.

"I never take that personally. That's just coach," Wallace said. "I tell him I've got a hundred ticks, so he says he wants to call me a bag of tricks before too long.

"I'm not worried about that. I just say give me the rock and you'll see I can do everything else."

Wallace is intent on proving he can do the little things as a receiver, but he's hoping for more of the big stuff Sunday night when he returns to his hometown of New Orleans.

As a senior at O. Perry Walker High, Wallace caught 60 passes at an average of 17.3 per catch and scored 27 touchdowns to set a school record for points. But he said he was "overlooked" by the major colleges, that he was "under-recruited" by LSU, and that he'd like to return and show off his status as the NFL's premier beep-beep deep threat Sunday night.

Problem is: Does Wallace accomplish that as a one-trick pony? Or as a receiver with a bag of tricks?

"I want to do both," he said.

But everyone who knows Wallace, knows "The Kid" can't lie.

"But I really want to do the one trick," he admitted. "The one trick is going to be real major. And if I can do the one trick, oh, three times, I'll really be happy. You could call me ‘one-trick' all day if that happens."

Can it happen? Wallace has already caught passes for 52, 46, 50 and 53 yards this season. Could he put up three or four of those big numbers in one game?

He thinks so. Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians isn't so sure.

"Teams get more and more aware of him," said Arians. "When you've got a guy like (free safety Darren) Sharper back there, you'd better be sure you know where that ball's going when he's crossing the field.

"But he needs to start taking some shorter ones to the house. Yeah, I think he's capable of having a big game every week, but it's not anything you can force."

Perhaps. But with Wallace, isn't it worth a try?

Steel City Insider Top Stories