In what might turn out to be a classic case of foreshadowing, the end of Mike Wallace's fourth season in the NFL could look strangely similar to his fifth -- with him not playing for the Steelers.
Wallace has been ruled out of Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns because of a hip/hamstring injury in the loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
That means the pass that was intended for him that was intercepted by Bengals safety Reggie Nelson with 14 seconds remaining might have been his last significant play for the Steelers.
This also will be the first game Wallace has missed in his four years with the Steelers.
"I didn't want to go out like that," Wallace said. "I really wanted to end on a high note. It's unfortunate."
Wallace played this season on a one-year contract worth $2.7 million after failing to agree on a contract extension with the Steelers in the offseason. He held out after the Steelers made the $2.7 million tender and missed all the offseason workouts and training camp.
He will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, meaning he is free to sign with another team
"I don't know, we'll see," Wallace said about the possibility of returning to the Steelers.
"I got big plans, no matter what the situation. I definitely got big plans for myself and my family. We'll see how it goes. Hopefully everything will go in a positive manner."
The Steelers were never confident they could sign Wallace to a contract extension because they believed he wanted too much money. And, after signing Antonio Brown to a six-year, $42.5 million contract when Wallace did not report to training camp, it is unlikely that will change now.
It also is unlikely the Steelers will use a franchise tag on Wallace because that means they would have to pay him between $10 million and $11 million next season.
"I definitely consider [returning]," Wallace said. "It's the team I've been on my whole career. I don't know anything else. I love playing here."
Wallace has looked more like his deep-threat self late in the season, catching 12 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns in the past three games -- an average of 18.3 yards per catch. Included in those 12 catches were receptions for 40 and 60 yards.
Wallace is tied for the team lead with eight touchdown catches, giving him 32 for his career.
That is more touchdowns than any other Steelers player since 2009 (Rashard Mendenhall has 29).
"It's disappointing," Wallace said. "You always want to be with [your] teammates every single game. It's kind of weird. This is the first game I ever missed since I've been here. It's a little weird for me."
Consistency for Polamalu
Troy Polamalu is expected to play his fifth consecutive game, which is something of an achievement itself.
Polamalu has missed nine games and three quarters of another because of injuries to his right calf muscle -- an injury he said could have been avoided with proper stretching.
The seven-time Pro Bowl safety said the injury and his age -- he will be 32 next season -- will cause him to change the way he trains for the 2013 season.
"I've had leg injuries before, but it's really the first time I had an injury that could actually have been avoided," Polamalu said.
"Any injury that I had previously, even the Achilles injury, have all been with someone falling on my knees and things like that.
"When it's something when muscles are involved, there's always something that can be done, whether it's stretching, strengthening or other supplements, all those different things. Obviously, the unavoidable injuries are when someone falls on your leg."
Polamalu first injured his right calf in the week leading up to the season opener in Denver.
He played the entire game against the Broncos, but missed the next two games and did not return until after the open week against the Philadelphia Eagles.
But, near the end of the first quarter after chasing a receiver, Polamalu started walking back to the huddle when he suddenly began hopping on his left leg. Harmlessly enough, he had torn the calf muscle less than 15 minutes into his return. He missed the next seven games.
Polamalu looked more like his old self in Sunday's loss to the Bengals, flying through gaps and over offensive linemen in an attempt to make plays.
Keisel unhappy with penalty
Defensive end Brett Keisel is still miffed for the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty he received for celebrating a sack against the Bengals.
Fortunately, he did not get fined for receiving a 15-yard penalty or "I would have really gone off."
Keisel was penalized after a sack on Andy Dalton when he dropped to one knee and pretended to shoot an arrow from a bow -- something he has done many times in his career. But referee Mike Carey said Keisel was given a penalty for "going to the ground and shooting a weapon."
He said he would have been very upset if he was fined because the league sells photos of him in the same post-sack pose for which he was penalized.
Keisel said he has a different celebration planned if he gets a sack against the Browns.
Rookie offensive lineman Mike Adams (ankle) and cornerback Curtis Brown (ankle) will not play against the Browns. It is the fifth game in a row Adams has missed.
Cornerback Keenan Lewis (knee) returned to practice and is listed as probable. He is expected to start.
The Browns have ruled out running back Trent Richardson, quarterbacks Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy and cornerback Sheldon Brown.Steelers - mobilehome
Gerry Dulac: email@example.com and Twitter @gerrydulac. First Published December 29, 2012 5:00 AM