Five questions with ... Mike Wallace

August, 10, 2009
8/10/09
1:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

LATROBE, Pa. -- There is a rookie with the Pittsburgh Steelers who is showing flashes in training camp -- both literally and figuratively.

 
  Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
  Steelers rookie Mike Wallace is impressing coaches with his speed.
Lightning-quick rookie receiver Mike Wallace has been impressive this summer. He is showing good hands and improved route-running, which hasn't gone ignored by Pittsburgh's coaching staff.

The AFC North blog recently caught up with Wallace to discuss his speed and starting a new rivalry with good friend and former college teammate Michael Oher.

1. Mike, what is it like for a rookie playing every day against last year's top-rated defense?

Mike Wallace: It's a big difference because our defense sends a lot of different blitzes. The main adjustment is learning the "hots" [hot reads] because I don't want to leave Ben (Roethlisberger) out there to dry. So I'm just working my way up to try to get as many reps as I can to help my team. But I believe we're going to have the best defense again this year. We have a lot of playmakers on defense, we have real good coaches, and we have a real good scheme.

2. You and Michael Oher of the Baltimore Ravens were college teammates at Ole Miss. What's your rapport with him?

Wallace: Me and "Big O," we've been friends ever since we stepped on campus. Sometimes I used to stay by his house in Memphis. We've been real good friends our whole time there at Ole Miss. That was one of my closest teammates when I was there.

3. How does it feel now to be on opposites sides of one of the NFL's best rivalries?

Wallace: It's going to be a change, but it's going to be fun. I can't wait to play against him. I feel like our team is going to go out and try to win a ballgame. We're going to save the [trash] talk for that week. We've just been talking lately to make sure each other is straight. We talked maybe two or three days ago to see how each other were doing.

4. Your Steeler teammates are already saying you're one of the fastest players on the team. Where do you think you rank?

Wallace: [Laughs] I don't know. I don't want to put it out there too early. You got to race a couple guys first, and those guys are established. Speed doesn't matter if I haven't done anything yet. So I'm just trying to work to get better.

5. What's it like learning under Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes?

Wallace: It's going to help me be the best player I can be, because they've been there. They've been at the top. With Hines and Santonio, I have two Super Bowl MVPs and not just one helping me out. What one hasn't done the other one has. So they've done pretty much everything.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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