Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace finally reported to the team last week and signed his $2.7 million restricted free-agent tender. And there Wallace was Monday, practicing with the team’s first unit.
Despite a new offense being installed by coordinator Todd Haley, Wallace seemed up to speed. He did have the playbook with him during his time away from the team.
He said, “I have been studying it. I have a good grasp of it. It’s just running the plays off of it. I am getting there. I like where I am at. The main thing is the timing aspect of it, just getting back to knowing what Ben (Roethlisberger) likes, what I like. It’s not going to be hard because we have been together so long. It’s just a new offense. He just has to make sure I know what I am doing. I did pretty good today but it was only one day. We have a long way to go.”
Said Roethlisberger, when asked how much he thinks Wallace will play in the opener, “I’m sure this week will kind of determine that, how’s he practicing, how’s his wind. He’s not going to play every single play, no one ever does. I think he’ll be in there quite a bit, though. He didn’t make any mistakes in the no-huddle drill. So, he looked good.”
Fellow wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders said, “He’s definitely going to start. He’ll get a good amount of reps, depending on how he feels, and his breathing.”
Remember, the Steelers play in the rarefied air of Denver, which can be difficult.
Meanwhile, Wallace had a comment on Roethlisberger: “His arm is stronger than when we left last year. He was throwing that thing pretty far.”
The Definition of Adversity
When asked about the adversity the Saints are facing because of several suspensions, interim interim coach Aaron Kromer was pointed in his response. He said, “The Gulf Coast is always on our mind. I talked to the team this morning about that adversity and that this isn’t adversity, having a new coach, Game 1, having Joe Vitt during the preseason, having Sean Payton have to leave when he did. That’s not adversity. That’s an opportunity for all of us to step up. Adversity is when your house is flooded and you can’t go home.
“And that’s what we talked about that those are the things in life that you’re going to find out about yourself. And our guys over time have realized that the fans and the people in this area can always bounce back. And we live by that. No matter what happens, we know the community is going to bounce back. And we know the community has our back and we have the community’s back.”
Working the Scout Team
There was some surprise in San Francisco when Scott Tolzien won the job as third quarterback over Josh Johnson, especially since Jim Harbaugh had coached Johnson in college. It turns out Tolzien was retained mostly for his value on the scout team and helping starter Alex Smith prepare for games.
The Sacramento Bee related a story of Tolzien the “gym rat,” who made the team facility his home after being signed. He would be there watching tape late at night, and would then sleep in a recliner and shower in the locker room. He said, “I was here late nights, so I figured, why not just stay here?”
Smith said of Tolzien, “I can definitely ask him to try to keep an eye on things and watch specifics that week.”
Tolzien said, “The week’s short. I mean, it goes fast. And (he) doesn’t have time to go through every last bit of film. It’s not possible. So anything I can do to complement that is for the better of the team.”
*Normally, a matchup of running backs Adrian Peterson and Maurice Jones-Drew on opening day would be a fantasy player’s delight. Not this year. Peterson is easing his way back from knee surgery and Jones-Drew just ended a 38-day holdout and will supposedly be the third-down back Sunday. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Peterson will be the proverbial “game-time decision” whether he will play. Said Frazier: “We recognize that if he’s able to get in this first ball game it’ll be with limited exposure. We’ll talk about it as the week goes on and see how he’s doing and if it’s even a viable option to let him play. You really have to take the emotion out of it. You have to really hone in on what’s best for him, what’s best for our team. Adrian is not just another guy on our team; he is in so many ways the face of what we try to do. We have to be able to see the big picture when it comes to him and that’s the way we’ll approach it.”
*Might running back Ronnie Brown be the man for the Chargers with Ryan Mathews sidelined by a broken clavicle? Coach Norv Turner said, “I’d like to think that someone will emerge, that we’ll feel good enough about someone where they can get 20 carries.” When asked if that could be Brown, Turner said, “Yeah. He could be the guy.” However, chances are, he’s not.
*I hope you weren’t one of those people that selected running back Tim Hightower in your fantasy draft as a sleeper. That’s because Hightower is truly sleeping after being cut by the Redskins. So, who gets the carries in Washington? Roy Helu? Evan Royster? Alfred Morris? Royster was atop the depth chart issued by the team Monday, but even Royster was buying it. Noting that the depth chart likely means little, Royster said, “I think they’re going to keep us pretty much in the dark until probably the day before the game.”
Tweet of the Week
Saints suspended linebacker Jonathan Vilma after the NFL Referees Association claimed the NFL had leaked inaccurate information to the media: “Nflra says the nfl has provided false info to its teams and media…ha! Join the club!! I definitely know that feeling.”
Browns president Mike Holmgren on the team having 15 rookies on the roster: “I saw that. I wasn’t keeping track of that really and then I saw it and I don’t want to say it startled me, but it’s a pretty young group. Now, I suppose before we tee it up here, Pat (Shurmur) might give me a chance to talk to the team. I hope he does. My message to them would be, ‘Look, we are young and everyone knows you’re young. You can make excuses like that forever and ever, but the simple fact is no one will care.’ I know they’re smart and I know they care. I know they’re good players and so what we lack in experience, my hope is that we make up for it in enthusiasm and intelligence and skill. We are young yes, but we’ve chosen to build the team that way. I’ve said it before, building a foundation so the team can be good for a long time and we’re just in that beginning stage now where we’re pretty young.”