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Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Wallace needs to prove he's a fast learner

By Jamison Hensley

No one doubts Mike Wallace's speed on the field. But the key to his season is how quick he is off of it.

Wallace, the team's leading receiver, skipped the team's first practice of the offseason and has yet to sign his $2.7 restricted free-agent tender. He isn't expected to attend any of the offseason workouts and could miss the start of training camp to protest the lack of a long-term deal.

This wouldn't be a problem in most offseasons. This one is different for the Steelers because it's the first with new offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

According to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, there is a 90 percent change from Bruce Arians' offense to this year's one. That's why it would be good -- although not necessary -- for Wallace to be in Pittsburgh to learn the new playbook.

My guess is it won't hurt Wallace too much. His favorite route is still the one where he runs straight down the field and beats the cornerback in a foot race. And it would be more important for Wallace to be here if the Steelers were changing quarterbacks instead of coordinators. Whenever he returns, whether it's the start of training camp or the middle of it, he will still have the same chemistry with Roethlisberger.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin called the current situation a little "short-term misery." Just don't expect it to be a long-term problem that extends to the regular season.