Vikings’ Wallace waiting in preseason shadows
What? Mike Wallace worry? Nah.
The Minnesota Vikings’ most accomplished deep-threat receiver, acquired at a $9.9 million price tag this season, has one catch for 2 yards this preseason. The operative word in that sentence is the final one: “preseason.”
Wallace smiled when a reporter asked him following the team’s second preseason game if the Vikings are holding their cards close to the vest regarding the full passing game in the preseason.
“A lot, just because that’s why I’m here. We have like five or six guys that can go deep. I’m not the only one; everybody can run,” Wallace said. “Right now, it’s kind of holding everybody back, not (just) me. As a whole, we all are itching and going out on the field. Coach will call me to run more plays down the field as the preseason goes, I assume, and different teams we play. Once we start game-planning even more we’ll start doing it.”
Maybe Wallace’s assumption might have been faster than his wheels. On second thought, he’s not even sure if his speed will necessarily be unleashed the rest of the preseason. There isn’t a big advantage to doing that when the preseason means little in terms of wins and losses and so much is riding on the offense during the regular season.
He knows his opportunities will come when points, and more importantly, wins mean something.
“I know it’s coming. We did a lot more in the springtime than we’re doing right now. I feel like I definitely know that’s what I’m going to be doing,” he said. “Right now, I’m running a lot more shorter routes right now than I will. I know exactly what I’ll be doing pretty much, but right now the way our defense plays in camp, we don’t really run as many deep routes. In camp, you’re really practicing against your defense and you’re not game-planning and then Tampa, they run a lot of Cover-2 so I think as the weeks go on we’ll see it. I know 100 percent sure that it’s coming. I’m not worried about it.”
Offensive coordinator Norv Turner is hardly a spring chicken to the preseason games coaches play. Vanilla is the favorite flavor of the preseason and that’s exactly what the Vikings offense is serving up.
Turner is the sly server. Who much of the offense is being held back in the preseason?
“A lot of it,” Turner said. “We do the things we need to do to go play a preseason game. We spend a lot of time in practice doing things that we’re going to get ready to use early in the season, doing things that we’re going to use in specific situations, third downs, red zone, two-minute, those type of things.”
Of course, the book on Turner’s offense has been out for decades. He is still running what he always has since he was an offensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys in the 1990s and won back-to-back Super Bowls.
The schemes change slightly to adapt for personnel from team to team and season to season, but Turner knows what he has, even if he had only one game last year with Adrian Peterson in the lineup and only one offseason of work with Wallace this spring and summer.
Fall ball is what matters, and for now Wallace is happy to play summer decoy before the fall season opens while hunting for wins that matter.
Right now, Adam Thielen is the leading receiver with five catches for 82 yards and a touchdown. Jarius Wright has four catches for 64 yards, including two for a combined 50 yards Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But Wallace is the tried and true deep threat who is willing to work on routes in the preseason with assumption that the long ball will be flying in the regular season.
“Whatever my team needs me to do, I’m going to do it,” Wallace said. “If I have to run down 60 plays a game and just clear it out for my others guys to have a good game, I’m with it.”
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