LATROBE – The buzz is growing that Mike Wallace will return soon to the Steelers, possibly very soon if we are to believe his excited teammates.
Jerricho Cotchery was asked if he expects Wallace to return to the team next week.
“Definitely,” he said. “I think he’s a great player and a great teammate. We love him around here so we’ll be very excited when he gets back.”
Cotchery was asked if Wallace would have enough time to get ready for the season.
“I think one of the greatest of all time, Jerry Rice, trained in a way that he was doing football stuff,” Cotchery said. “I think Wallace is doing similar things. He’ll be ready to go. He’s just a guy that has always worked hard and I think he’ll be ready to go when he gets back here. We have a smart staff and a great training staff, so he’ll be OK.”
Emmanuel Sanders is also sharing in the Wallace buzz.
“He has his own little plan,” Sanders said. “But I know that myself, you guys and Steeler Nation are just ecstatic about him saying that he’s going to come back. For the longest time we didn’t know when he was going to come back, but it’s starting to look really good. There’s light at the end of the tunnel at training camp and for Wallace coming back. Everything is starting to come together.”
The Steelers will begin practicing at their South Side facility next week.
James Harrison underwent “a minor surgical knee procedure,” according to Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who had no further details but said Harrison’s recovery “shouldn’t be long. We’ll see when we get him back out there and start the process of working him back.”
Before the surgery, Harrison said he would definitely be back in time for the opener. A source with the Steelers said the problem with his knee is different than the problem Harrison experienced in the spring.
Rookie linebacker Sean Spence suffered “a low ankle” injury at practice and will likely miss the next couple of days.
Isaac Redman told reporters earlier in the day he will undergo an MRI on his injured groin on Thursday, but he dressed for practice and participated in individual drills Wednesday. Tomlin maintained after Wednesday’s practice that Redman’s injury is “minor.”
“Again, he’s working in a limited capacity in preparation for the game,” said Tomlin, who tersely added: “He shouldn’t be talking to you about MRIs.”
Even though Wallace is expected back soon, the Steelers will still need a fifth wide receiver. Yesterday, three-year NFL veteran Derrick Williams of Penn State was consistently used as the No. 4 receiver on the other side of Cotchery with the second team. But Tomlin wouldn’t commit to any of the youngsters.
“They have to establish consistency of performance,” Tomlin said. “All of them had moments to be excited about. All of them have had moments of discouragement. We’ll see where they go.”
CARTER IN A RUSH
Adrian Robinson was the star of the one-on-one drills Wednesday. The undrafted rookie from Temple beat left tackle Marcus Gilbert three consecutive times and then found success on the other side against Ramon Foster.
Robinson took both sides to give the tackles a speed-rush look since the Steelers don’t want to burn out Chris Carter, the man who has replaced Harrison at left outside linebacker all camp and who showed well in the first preseason game.
“He’s represented himself well, not only since he’s been here but he had a very productive offseason, OTAs and minicamp,” Tomlin said. “He’s a second-year player, a guy who has to take that step in a manner in which we challenge all of our second-year players, and thus far he’s accepting that challenge.”
Carter was asked why he looks like a different player this year over his rookie year.
“You’ve got to understand,” Carter said, “my first game against the Washington Redskins, I got my playbook two weeks before that. Other than that I never saw the playbook, I never met anybody on the staff, or anything like that. It was a big transition. It was a big tornado for me. Now I feel a lot more settled, a lot more comfortable. No need to stress. I’ve got great players around me, big-time playmakers like Troy Polamalu, guys I looked up to when I was younger. Now I get the opportunity to go make some plays with them.”
Carter wore Polamalu’s No. 43 while at Fresno State.