Mike Wallace Still Looks Like a Home-Run Hitter
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - On the first play of team drills in front of 35,000 fans attending practice on Saturday morning at Lincoln Financial Field, something tantalizing happened for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Nick Foles, making his return after missing three practices and the preseason opener while nursing neck/upper back spasms, dropped back and launched a pass deep down the right sideline for a streaking Mike Wallace, the veteran wideout known for his speed and ability as a home-run hitter.
Wallace, himself making a return to the practice field after missing some time with knee tendinitis, put it into second gear to leave the younger Jalen Mills in the dust and Foles hit the free-agent pickup before Pro Bowl safety Malcolm Jenkins could get over the top to help. It would have been a 40- to 50-yard gain and had those attending the last open practice of the summer on their feet.
Lost was the context that Foles probably would have been sacked on the play in a live environment but it showed off just what Wallace may bring to this offense, the ability to stretch the field with far more consistency that the man he's replacing, Torrey Smith.
“Is my name still Mike?” the now 32-year-old veteran joked when asked about his ability to pop the top on opposing defenses. “That’s not going nowhere. Over the last, I don’t know how many years, I still lead the league in 50-plus plays.
"... "There aren't many cornerbacks that press me."
In the dog days of training camp Wallace, like most of his teammates, got a little extra juice from being at the Linc in front of a large crowd.
“It’s easy when you have fans like this,” he said.
Wallace has been a major part of offenses in Pittsburgh, Miami, Minnesota and Baltimore over the years and things could be easier for him this time around. Typically Wallace has been asked to be a WR1 since leaving the Steel City and now he's going to take on a more complementary role with receivers like Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz helping with heavy lifting.
A three-time 1,000-yard receiver Wallace is coming off a year in Baltimore in which he caught just 52 for 748 and four touchdowns, a down year for him but one that was significantly better than what Smith gave the Eagles in 2017. Meanwhile, Wallace's nine receptions of over 40 yards since he turned 30 is still top 10 in the league over that span make him the best deep threat to call Philadelphia home since DeSean Jackson.
“I’m ready to have a great year,” Wallace predicted.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen