Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Ravens-Steelers III: Is Mike Wallace ready?
By James Walker
PITTSBURGH -- Steelers second-year receiver Mike Wallace said he's heard it all about playoff football from teammate and future Hall of the Famer Hines Ward this week.
Hines Ward wants to make sure Mike Wallace will be ready for the atmosphere and intensity of a playoff game.
"You know Hines is always ready to tell you a story," Wallace said with a smile.
At every chance during the bye, the 13-year veteran has been telling Wallace about the difference between the regular season and playoff football. Wallace, 24, is Pittsburgh's leading receiver and is playing at a Pro-Bowl level. But Wallace will make his postseason debut Saturday for the Steelers (12-4) against the Baltimore Ravens (13-4).
Ward is doing everything he can to make sure the dynamic Wallace is ready for the increase in intensity, especially in this brutal rivalry with the Ravens. Wallace, as he has for two seasons, is a willing student and says he's soaking in Ward's wisdom.
"You have to take the [important] things out of the story, because you gotta know going in there it's going to be a really long message," Wallace said in jest. "But he's sending me a really good message telling me about his experiences, even though it's going to be an hour or two."
Ward, who has two rings, knows better than anyone that a chance to win a Super Bowl doesn't come around often. The winner will advance to the AFC Championship Game, and Pittsburgh needs Wallace to play well in order to make a deep postseason run.
Wallace was one of the NFL's top breakout players this season with 60 receptions for 1,257 yards and 10 touchdowns.
"He needs to just continue going out there and being Mike Wallace, and when you get your opportunity, make a play for us," Ward explained. "The intensity will pick up, because there’s more at stake, and each play is magnified. We may not get another chance to make a play, so we need to capitalize on the opportunities. I look for Mike Wallace to have a good postseason and a good ballgame."