On the Steelers: Wallace understands fans' criticisms


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Mike Wallace understands why fans booed him Sunday at Heinz Field. Still, "I think they're out to get me a little bit."

His inability to come to contract terms with the Steelers, his long holdout, his recent comments that he sometimes lacked focus and his dropped pass of a deep ball Sunday may all have prompted the outburst by fans.

"Anything I do is going to be magnified -- good, bad, it doesn't matter," Wallace said of the attention he is getting. "I just have to do what I need to do, handle my business and don't give anybody a reason to say anything.

"Whatever happens, I take full responsibility for it."

The boos at Heinz Field started when Wallace dropped a deep pass from Ben Roethlisberger in the second quarter Sunday, trailing San Diego, 3-0. Had he caught it, he might have scored. More boos followed when Antonio Brown dropped a long pass, and they continued over the course of a game the Steelers lost, 34-24.

"At this point, nothing really surprises me," said Wallace, who added that it does not bother him.

"No, I'm good. I'm 100 percent good. It's not like they did anything wrong. It was something I did. I don't have a problem with it."

Wallace said he should not have mentioned last week that sometimes he loses his focus because he's not seeing as many passes come his way this season.

"It's not like I lose focus on the games or [lose] sight of what's going on. I might have shouldn't have said that. It was taken the whole wrong way, how I said it.

"When you're not getting the ball in the game, sometimes you get a little frustrated and you kind of lose focus in the game, not on the game, but, sometimes, you get mentally not focused on the things that you need to always be focused on."

Gerry Dulac, however, wrote at PG Plus Tuesday that, while Wallace's receiving yards are down, he actually has been targeted with more passes than any time in his four-year career. He's within range of his career-high 72 catches in 2011.

Wallace has 59 receptions and 728 yards. NFL statistics show that he has been targeted for passes 104 times, the highest amount in his career through 13 games. Last season, he had 90 passes thrown his way after 13 games and, in 2010, he had 78 passes directed to him at this point in the season.

The difference is not in the number of passes coming his way but their direction. In Todd Haley's offense, the number of deep passes has shrunk, and so has Wallace's yardage and yards per catch.

He had 1,193 yards receiving and a 16.6-yard average per catch last season. He had 1,257 yards and a 21.0 average in 2010 and 756 yards and a 19.4 average as a rookie in 2009. His average this season is 12.3, but his eight touchdowns match his entire 2011 season's production.

Wallace said it's not just the number of passes that go into it.

"There's a lot of different things. I'm not really going to get into it or make excuses one way or the other. I just need to be a better player. I know that. I work hard at it every day, I never take a day off, I never go lollygagging. I work hard every single day.

"The ball just bounces the other way sometimes. I feel sometimes things go your way. It's not like I'm dropping every pass. I make a lot of plays, too, as well. I would definitely love to make every single play on the field to help my team as much as I can. I just have to keep working and I think things will go my way."

About lighting fires ...

Roethlisberger got off a line that may light a fire under both teams' fan bases. Talking about Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, Roethlisberger said, "He plays for 'America's Team,' right?"

He laughed, then added, "I think the Steelers are the 'World's Team.' "

Roethlisberger said he ripped into his offense at halftime of the San Diego game Sunday, when the Steelers trailed, 13-3.

"I kind of unloaded. I laid into the whole offense, not just Wallace. I think we all deserved to get booed, which I feel like we did."

That's a reversal of opinion because Sunday, Roethlisberger said "nobody should ever get booed."

He also said Plaxico Burress is ready for more playing time.

"I think he's been putting a lot of extra time in and work on getting himself ready and prepared and understanding this offense. I do think he's ready to expand his role."

More on Mendenhall

Coach Mike Tomlin spoke for the first time about his suspension of halfback Rashard Mendenhall for one week. Mendenhall did not attend the game Sunday at Heinz Field after his coaches informed him he would not be an active player.

"Last Sunday, he was not at the game," Tomlin said after practice. "I deemed those actions a detriment to our efforts. I stated as such when I met with him, and there were going to be repercussions of it. We had a good visit, he accepted it. He looks forward to coming back and rejoining this team on Monday and being a positive contribution to our efforts the rest of the way.

"Obviously, there's frustration with his situation, understandably, but we all have a job to do, I require that all guys remain professional regardless of personal circumstance. He didn't meet the standard in that regard and accepted the consequences of it. So, hopefully this will be a lesson learned not only for him but for everyone, and we'll be able to move on from it."

So why should a player such as Mendenhall who is scratched from a game be required to attend that game? Simple, said safety Ryan Clark. Players are officially made inactive 90 minutes before kickoff and right up until that time they are eligible to be part of the 46-man active roster for that game.

"You're expected to be at the game," Clark said. "If I'm inactive and not playing because I'm healthy scratch and Troy [Polamalu] wakes up in the morning and his foot swells, I can be put up. So that's why you want a guy to be at the game, from my perspective."

Other teammates declined to discuss Mendenhall's one-week suspension or the reason behind it -- he did not show up at Heinz Field for the game. His coaches told him he would be inactive, and Mendenhall has told teammates he did not know he had to be there.

DeCastro ready to go

All things remain full speed ahead for David DeCastro to make his first NFL start at right guard.

"It's a little different," DeCastro said after practiced Wednesday. "You're getting reps with the first team. It's still football, still all the same stuff. Definitely, it's more exciting, obviously with a chance to play. I'm excited."

DeCastro seemed to wear a perpetual scowl as he went through months of rehabbing his right knee that was injured in the third preseason game. He was placed on the new injured reserve list that allowed one player to return during the season after eight weeks. DeCastro has suited up the past two games.

"It's just nice to get back out there. That's the goal when you get injured. I'm lucky they had that IR rule, it gave me an opportunity to come back."

Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley also went through a full practice Wednesday and appears ready to return after missing the past two games with a sprained ankle. Backup quarterback Byron Leftwich returned after he missed three games with broken ribs. He said after practice he felt good.

Those who did not practice besides those declared out were defensive backs Cortez Allen, Keenan Lewis and Troy Polamalu, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and outside linebacker James Harrison, who was sick.

Steelers - mobilehome

For more on the Steelers, read the blog, Ed Bouchette on the Steelers at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Ed Bouchette: ebouchette@post-gazette.com and Twitter: @EdBouchette. First Published December 13, 2012 5:00 AM


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