Wallace: I Feel Like We Can Make A Lot Of Big Plays Out There

Posted May 17, 2013

Top-flight wide receiver sees a little Big Ben in his new QB.

Four years of catching passes from a Super Bowl winning quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger gave new Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace a good perspective on elite quarterback play.

The Pittsburgh Steelers let Wallace test the free agent waters and in addition to being wooed to be Miami’s top deep threat, the other big selling point for him was second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The two have been working together, along with the other veteran wide receivers, since mid-March and Tannehill has only managed to further impress his newest target.

“Ryan has a cannon, a strong arm and we’re getting there,” said Wallace, who has a career average of 17.2 yards per catch. “I feel like we can make a lot of big plays out there. I think with a guy like that who always wants to work and never wants to take a second off, I think it won’t take much time as people think for us to develop chemistry.”

Wallace sees a lot of similarities between Tannehill and Roethlisberger, specifically in their athleticism considering both began their college careers as wide receivers. He already has noticed how Tannehill’s understanding of the receiver position, like Roethlisberger’s can pay big dividends in the long run.

Of course, Roethlisberger already has accomplished a lot in his career having made it to three Super Bowls and winning two. But Wallace isn’t afraid to tout the potential for Tannehill to reach that level.

“They both have strong arms and Ryan can really fling it,” he said. “I think from a deep ball perspective I think Ryan may be able to throw the ball a little bit farther than Ben. Obviously, Ben is more experienced but the way Ryan is going it won’t take long at all for him to be one of the great quarterbacks.”

Five days from now, Wallace, Tannehill and the rest of the team will take the field for the first of three days of OTAs at the Doctor’s Hospital Training Facility in Davie. Tannehill has gotten an up close look at just how fast Wallace is and has been able to see that game film doesn’t do his speed justice.

Between the addition of Wallace, free agent wide receiver Brandon Gibson, free agent tight end Dustin Keller and the re-signing of Tannehill’s favorite target from last season, Brian Hartline, there is a growing confidence among the key members of Miami’s passing game. Tannehill wanted to take the lead as far as getting all of them together before OTAs and minicamp in order to work on timing and chemistry.

“We’re only able to work on air right now and that’s what we’re doing,” Tannehill said. “But we’re doing a good job of getting time in as a unit, as an offense, going through running plays, going through checks at the line and just working on timing. Individually, we’ve been staying after just working on routes with the receivers and then whole concepts and it’s exciting to be able to get out on air and everybody’s working hard.”

Hartline set a career high with 74 receptions for 1,083 yards in 2012 and Tannehill set new franchise records for passing yards by a rookie quarterback (3,294) and completions (282). As the returning veteran, Hartline has embraced a leadership role with the receiver group and Wallace credited him with “taking the edge off of the room” and helping to make his transition to a new team easier.

This will be Hartline’s fifth season, just like Wallace, and he has improved each year culminating with his breakout performance last year. He caught 12 passes for a Dolphins record 253 yards and a touchdown in an overtime loss at the Arizona Cardinals and is equally excited to see how much improved Tannehill will be this year and how much more dangerous the receivers will be with Wallace onboard.

“He’s been good,” said Hartline of Wallace. “He works hard, which is number one obviously because if you can work hard everything else will take care of itself. I like to keep things light, he keeps things light, too, so it’s a good mesh, and then Gibson does a great job coming into the room, too. So we’ve got a good group and at least on paper I think we’re the best in the AFC East but we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
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