If some were questioning Mike Wallace’s dedication after a late-season incident with the Miami Dolphins, the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings did his homework on the subject.
The Vikings traded a fifth-round draft pick to the Dolphins for Wallace and a seventh-rounder in return earlier this month, but the move had some questioning if the Vikings were risking Wallace’s $9.8 million salary on a player that some believed quit on the Dolphins last year.
Zimmer inquired about Wallace’s character with two coaches that had worked with Wallace before – Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards and Vikings running backs coach Kirby Wilson. Edwards was with Wallace for the 2013 season in Miami. Wilson was with Wallace from 2009-12 with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“They talked about how hard he works, what kind of guy he is, all of those internal things,” Zimmer said of his background information on Wallace, speaking on PFT Live from the owners meetings. “And then I had, I guess, the misfortune of having to play against him so many times when he was in Pittsburgh and again this year in Miami. I just know that a guy like that that has great speed and acceleration off the ball, all the different things he can do, he can help open up so many different areas for Jerick McKinnon, for Adrian (Peterson), for Kyle Rudolph and also for Charles Johnson and to help our young quarterback.”
In nine career games against the Bengals while Zimmer was the defensive coordinator, Wallace had 42 catches for 545 yards and three touchdowns. Last year against Zimmer’s Vikings, as a member of the Dolphins, Wallace had five catches for 58 yards and two touchdowns.
Wallace averaged almost 13 yards per reception against Zimmer’s Bengals and earned the reputation as a deep threat. But Zimmer said he doesn’t mind a receiver that wants the ball in his hands and isn’t afraid to say it.
“I think everybody wants to make plays and to catch the ball and do those things, and he’s no different than anybody else,” Zimmer said. “I’ve been around a lot of great receivers that have been divas and I don’t believe he’s like that at all. I hear all these different things. When I met with him and from the reports I got back from the coaches and that have been on the field with him, practice, games, they gave no indication of anything like that. He’s just a hard-working kid that wants the football, and I have no problem with that.”
Wallace got into a sideline altercation at the end of the first half of the Dolphins’ season finale and sat out the second half. After his release from the Dolphins, a couple of his former teammates, Maurkice and Mike Pouncey, criticized Wallace’s effort, with Maurkice calling him a “coward,” but Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said Wallace apologized to general manager Dennis Hickey and vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum for what happened in the season finale.
Zimmer said he doesn’t mind taking on a player with a strong competitive spirit.
“I like guys that are so competitive they want to get the football,” Zimmer said. “Defensive guys, I’ve been around some guys on defense that were so competitive that they wanted to be involved in the game more, and some of them were Hall of Famers. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.”
Zimmer got positive reviews on Wallace
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