Ike on Mike:

Ike Taylor reins in the optimism a bit on Mike Wallace's return, but explains why the rest of the league had better be concerned.

LATROBE – Mike Wallace's buddies in the wide receivers' room were almost giddy Wednesday in their belief that Wallace will show up on the South Side next week when Steelers training camp moves there from St. Vincent College.

But Ike Taylor, the man who has befriended Wallace from afar, is tugging a bit on those reins of optimism.

"Next week?" Taylor asked. "Next week?"

Taylor smiled at the question, which was seemingly answered the previous day by Jerricho Cotchery and Emmanuel Sanders.

Why are they saying that Wallace will return next week?

"Next week?" Taylor repeated with a Cheshire grin. "Hmmmm."

Taylor paused to allow the suspense to build, and then said, "The following week. Not this week coming up. The following week he should be back."

Taylor attributed his information to nothing more than instinct.

"I've got that feeling," Taylor said. "He's itching to come back, man. Every time I talk to him he's always asking what we're doing, how is it going. We miss him. He fo' sure missing the guys. You can just hear it in his voice, man.

"If he said next week, man, I don't know. I'm thinking there isn't really a timetable. If they're saying next week, I'm going with the week after."

Taylor repeated himself so as not to be mistaken:

"Not this week coming up after the (Indianapolis Colts) game, but the following week he should be back."

Taylor is so close to Wallace, a fellow New Orleanian, that he's given him everything but the shirt off his back.

"He's got my car. He's living in my house," Taylor said. "He ain't wearing my clothes though. He's got his own shoes."

Will it take Wallace long to get ready to play?

"No," Taylor said. "He might be in the best shape coming into camp that he's ever been, and that's saying a lot because Mike is probably the fastest guy, or one of the fastest guys, in the NFL. And he has no running form. He runs like a little kid. If he had some technique in running there's no telling how fast he'd run. I think he's getting some of that from (speed coach Tom) Shaw now, but once he gets back on the field he's going to throw it out the window. That's got to take years of running, and right now he doesn't have time to worry about how he should run.

"But his routes are getting a whole lot better. From what I hear, Mike, from last year to this year, could be day and night. That's scary for other people. It's good for us."

Taylor and his fellow cornerbacks have been clamping down on the Steelers' thinned receiving corps throughout camp, but Taylor said Wallace's presence will change that.

"Yeah, hell yeah. Mike opens the field," Taylor said. "He takes the top off the roof – three, two, one, missile gone. That's one thing you can't coach and that's one thing he possesses: pure speed."

The final concern is that Wallace will bring personal baggage to the locker room, that he represents the potential for disharmony among the team.

Taylor doesn't buy it.

"None at all," Taylor said. "We understand. We understand."

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