Scenes from Wallace Day

SCI publisher Jim Wexell took in two critical scenes on The Day Wallace Reported: one so positive it was contagious; one so low key it turned into a coach's press conference.

PITTSBURGH – As expected, the locker room was packed with media at lunchtime yesterday.

But Mike Wallace wasn't around.

Too bad, because if the thousand other journalists were to pack around Wallace's locker, I could have my run of the place.

Instead I sought refuge over at Maurkice Pouncey's locker. And he was electric.

"Can you believe how good we're gonna be now?" Pouncey asked.

He must've thought I was another guy working on a reaction piece to Wallace ending his holdout today.

I wasn't. I wanted to ask Pouncey about Jeff Demps, just for the heck of it.

"Demps?" Pouncey asked.

"Yeah, what if Kevin Colbert asked you about him? What would you say?"

"Get him," Pouncey said as he jerked his thumb back towards his locker. "Get him now."

The Steelers can't, of course, sign the Olympic sprinter/Florida running back. He's with the Patriots now. It's too late.

"But we got Mike," Pouncey said with an absolutely radiant glow.

I asked him why he's so excited. Didn't he expect Wallace back this week?

"I wasn't sure. Now I am," Pouncey said with a big smile. And then he began talking about how Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Jerricho Cotchery and Heath Miller will all look so good in the offense with Wallace on the field. He talked about how Ramon Foster is more than capable of replacing David DeCastro – "and we still have Doug (Legursky)," Pouncey added of the other backup guard with starting capability.

Then I got a bit excited. I reminded Pouncey that Isaac Redman will be more than an able replacement for Rashard Mendenhall.

"And (Jonathan) Dwyer's looking good. Chris (Rainey). Ho-lee," Pouncey concluded.

By now he had me fired up. Pouncey had actually made me part of the buzz sweeping through the locker room today.

And he gave me a reaction piece. Ho-lee.

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Mike Tomlin's reaction wasn't quite so enthusiastic.

"Those guys will tell you anything you want to hear," Tomlin growled when informed of "the electricity in your locker room."

So, the boss made it obvious he isn't buying into the buzz. But is he buying into the rumors of a turbocharged offense showing up on Sept. 9?

That remains to be seen. Rumors also have been floated that Tomlin was so displeased with Wallace's holdout that he wouldn't be in the mood to welcome him back with wide open arms.

But there they were after practice, huddling together, smiling warmly as the media throng awaited the official end of The Great Last Holdout of 2012.

"He just told me to say whatever I feel," Wallace said of the meeting with Tomlin. "I told him I'm not talking about any of that stuff in the past. I'm only talking about my team and us getting ready for the Super Bowl. That's all I'm talking about. If we're talking about anything else, I'm not talking about it."

And he didn't. Wallace stuck to the love of his teammates as his central theme, and that's certainly understandable. But, will Tomlin put him right back in the starting lineup?

"I don't know that," Tomlin said a few minutes later at a press conference. "I haven't seen him execute anything at this point from a physical conditioning standpoint. Although I am sure you have some questions regarding his status and where it could go, I am simply not in a position to address it at this point, because he hasn't done anything other than show up."

Emmanuel Sanders has been working – as Wallace's replacement – with Ben Roethlisberger and the first-team offense for one full month.

Sanders is healthy, for once, and his 10 extra pounds of muscle are helping him play more physically. It's obvious. So he very well could be in line for a breakout season. Tomlin isn't quite sure how he wants to reward all of that.

"I hadn't pondered that at this juncture," Tomlin said of demoting Sanders. "Obviously things could change, but we will deal with those things as they arise. We haven't spent a lot of time worrying about it to this point."

Well, it's finally time to worry about it. Wallace really is back.

(Here are the transcripts from both the Mike Wallace and Mike Tomlin sessions with the media.)

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