WR Wallace: Deep-threat-only a ‘perception’

New Vikings receiver Mike Wallace knows he’s viewed as a deep-ball threat. That’s OK with him, but he believes there is much more to his game.

Wide receiver Mike Wallace gives the Minnesota Vikings the deep threat that Norv Turner thrives on with his offensive scheme.

Still, Wallace, whom the Vikings acquired in a trade on Friday, refuted the notion that he’s only a deep threat.

“That’s been the biggest knock ever since I’ve been playing football because all I ever really caught was deep passes, deep touchdowns,” Wallace during an interview Monday on KFAN radio. “But for the last two or three years I haven’t really caught too many deep passes. It’s perception.”

In his first two seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Wallace averaged 19.4 and 21.0 yards per reception, respectively. Those averages have been on the decline since. In 2009, his 19.4-yard average was first among receivers with 15 or more catches. In 2010, his 21.0-yard average was second to DeSean Jackson’s 22.5-yard average.

In his third season, Wallace’s average decreased to 16.6 yards, then 13.1 yards per catch in 2012, his final season with the Steelers.

Last year in Miami, Wallace was targeted 24 times when he was 20 yards or more downfield, according to Pro Football Focus, but caught only six of those. The numbers, however, suggest it was more of a quarterback problem than receiver issue. Only seven of those deep passes to Wallace were deemed catchable, with one drop.

Wallace believes he can do much more than stretch the field with go routes.

“Most definitely I agree with that,” he said. “… I’m looking forward to my new opportunity, especially in Coach Turner’s offense. I’ve been following that guy for a while. I remember when he was the coach back in San Diego. I’m excited.”

Wallace said he is “pretty good” at screens, reverses and the “short area” game, “but honestly I’m excited to get back to some deep passes and get the crowd (into it).”

He thinks Teddy Bridgewater can provide that as his new quarterback.

Wallace said he only saw Bridgewater play in person once, last year when the Vikings played in Miami. Bridgewater finished that game completing 19 of 26 passes for 259 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

“I know he’s a heck of a quarterback. I know that much. … He just seems like a positive guy, a really great personality,” Wallace said.

“I remember the whole game, just watching him and I’m like, ‘Man, this guy is really good.’ I remember seeing him at Louisville and being a really good player, but that’s college and you come into the pros and never know how a guy’s going to pan out. Just watching him in that game and being on the sideline with Brian Hartline and Jarvis (Landry) and just talking about him, all of us really thought positive about him.”

Wallace caught two touchdown passes in that 37-35 Dolphins win on Dec. 21 in Miami and had five catches for 58 yards, but he said a touchdown throw from Bridgewater to Greg Jennings on a corner route was “crazy.”

He’s also hoping to convince running back Adrian Peterson to return to the Vikings. Like Peterson, Wallace makes his offseason home in Houston and naturally believes that having Peterson in the backfield will help open up his opportunities on deep routes.

“Oh my God, it’s not even about the money. It’s about the plays that we’re going to make for the team. We’re going to be able to do some really exciting things,” Wallace said. “He’s one of the best running backs ever to play the game. Even if he retired today, I think he’d be a Hall of Famer. … I’ve been on teams with a lot of great players, but not as much as this guy would help us out as far as the running back and play-action and bringing so many guys into the box.”

Which, of course, would mean fewer defenders to contend with Wallace down the field, which could reinvigorate the “perception” of him as a deep-ball threat.

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