Steelers receiver Mike Wallace lines up with first team
September 4, 2012 8:00 AM
By Ed Bouchette Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Mike Wallace pulled on his uniform Monday and stepped onto the practice field for the first time with his Steelers teammates. He also stepped right into the split-end position with the first team, and that is where Emmanuel Sanders expects to see him Sunday night in Denver.
"He's definitely going to start," said Sanders, who held that job while Wallace held out. "He'll get a good amount of reps, depending on how he feels, his breathing."
Wallace said he felt good Monday, and his quarterback said Todd Haley's new offense caused Wallace no problems in his first day on the field since the Steelers lost their playoff game Jan. 8 in Denver.
"He didn't make any mistakes in the no-huddle drill, so he looked good," Ben Roethlisberger said, although he claimed not to know how much Wallace will play in Denver.
"I'm sure this week will kind of determine that, how's he practicing, how's his wind? He's not going to play every single play, no one ever does. I think he'll be in there quite a bit, though."
Wallace said he handled his duties in the new offense well and that not everything was a fly pattern. He said he did not have to ask anyone a question about a play that was called.
"I'm not going to say it's going to be like that every day, but not today. I had a pretty good grasp of what we were doing. That was one day. I don't know how it's going to be like Wednesday but today I was pretty good.
"I have to know everything, I can't just run down the field. I have to be able to do short, long, I want to do it all. Today was a good start for me. We have a way to go, but today's only Monday. We'll see Wednesday how it feels."
Wide receivers coach Scottie Montgomery worked with Wallace Friday and Saturday, which were off days for the other players.
"He gave me a good jump," Wallace said. "He loves working anyway. He didn't want me to go home, he wanted to keep me in there. All those days and those hours really helped me."
Harrison, Worilds practice
Outside linebackers James Harrison and Jason Worilds practiced for the first time this summer. Both reported it went well but also cautioned that the reactions might not occur until today.
Harrison especially is waiting to see how his left knee, which was scoped in mid-August, will react to practice.
"We'll find out tomorrow," he said Monday. "It'll give us more detail, definitely. If it blows up tomorrow, that's it."
Worilds had surgery to repair a ligament in his left wrist in the spring. That injury long has healed, but his return was delayed so he could strengthen the muscles in his wrist so he can ward off blocks.
"I did some of that today, and it felt fine," Worilds said. "I'm excited. Atrophy kind of set me back a little bit and building the muscles back to where I could function. Fortunately, we're there now."
No move, several reasons
The Steelers did not make a roster move Monday and might not do so until next week -- or even a few more -- for several reasons.
They can put rookie offensive guard David DeCastro on injured reserve with the new special designation that he can be brought back in eight weeks. At the moment, he is on the 53-man roster. DeCastro's injury, which included a torn MCL, will keep him out longer than eight weeks, it has been determined.
If they do nothing now, they keep their options open in case they have another such injury, perhaps to a more vital player they would rather designate for the eight-week injured-reserve spot. Only one player can be given that designation.
Also, if they at least wait until after the first game, put DeCastro on the eight-week injured reserve and re-sign veteran offensive lineman Trai Essex, Essex's salary for this season will not be guaranteed. If they sign him before the first game, he would receive his entire salary -- and it would count against their cap -- no matter what.
Wallace spots big difference
Roethlisberger didn't notice much difference in Wallace after his first day of practice this year. Wallace, though, noticed a big difference in his quarterback.
"I haven't been with Ben in a while," Wallace said. "His arm is stronger than when we left last year. He was throwing that thing pretty far."
That may not be surprising since Roethlisberger's right shoulder was injured in the Nov. 6 game against Baltimore. He revealed this summer that it was "a little torn rotator cuff."
Only 2 captains this year
The Steelers named just two captains yesterday, Roethlisberger and defensive end Brett Keisel. They broke from the tradition of having one on offense, one on defense and one on special teams. They've had as many as five.
Last year, they had four, and maybe it's a good thing they only named two this season because they released three of their four from last year (James Farrior, Hines Ward and Arnaz Battle shared the duties with Roethlisberger).
Keisel, by the way, returned to practice for the first time since he left the third preseason game with a high ankle sprain.