Scott Brown | ESPN.com
PITTSBURGH — A change in offensive coordinators may have contributed to a drop in production for Mike Wallace a season after he made the Pro Bowl.
But the former Steelers wide receiver said he has no hard feelings toward Todd Haley even though Wallace said he was “kind of” underused in his final season in Pittsburgh.
Wallace returns to Pittsburgh on Sunday for the first time since signing a five-year, $60 million with the Dolphins last March.
“I’m fine with the organization,” Wallace said. “I love those guys to death. It’s all love.”
That apparently includes Haley even though Wallace had just 64 catches for 836 yards in their only season together. Wallace averaged just over 1,200 receiving yards in two previous seasons with Bruce Arians as the Steelers’ offensive coordinator.
Wallace said a number of circumstances led to a reduced role for him in the Steelers’ offense after Haley replaced Arians, including his skipping most of preseason practice in 2012 because of his contract situation.
“It was coach’s first year and I wasn’t in training camp so he got a chance to see other guys and the things they were able to do throughout training. For me it was just looking at tape and then coming in and playing so I think it was a little bit of a challenge for him being able to use me,” said Wallace, who has caught 56 passes for 743 yards and three touchdowns. “With BA (Arians) it was more vertical I think than with coach Haley and obviously that was my strength. I think coach Haley is a great offensive coordinator though in his own right. It’s just a different game plan.”
Wallace said he will also catch up with Mike Tomlin
“That’s my guy,” Wallace said. “I’ve gotta lot of love for coach Tomlin. He’s been of the greatest [motivators] I’ve ever played for.”
Wallace said he believes Tomlin’s claim that the Steelers coach didn’t intend to interfere during a kickoff return last Thursday night in Baltimore. The NFL fined Tomlin $100,000 for the incident and it is leaving open the possibility of punishing the Steelers by taking away draft picks.
“He never gave me any reason to think he would do something like that,” Wallace said. “I think Coach Tomlin is always a stand-up guy and is always going to take whatever punishment there is and deal with it. I don’t think he’s going to try and put it on anybody else. The Soul Train pictures were kind of funny though.”
- Covered Steelers for six years for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
- Author of five books, including “Heaven Sent: The Heather Miller Story,” which highlights the friendship a young girl with cancer developed with several Steelers players