Mike Wallace’s Race to Contribute
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Mike Wallace was supposed to be the field-stretcher that made life easier for all the Eagles' offensive talent that excels underneath -- players like Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Dallas Goedert.
The plan never came to fruition after the veteran receiver suffered a fractured fibula in the first quarter against Tampa Bay in Week 2.
Armed with the ability to allow for two players to return from injured reserve, the Eagles used their first on tight end Richard Rodgers and then held onto the second, hoping Wallace would be able to return.
That long road ended earlier this week when Wallace, 32, was activated and Thursday, the three-time 1,000-yard wideout returned to the practice field for the first time in 3 1/2 months with the regular-season finale on tap Sunday in Washington.
If the Eagles win as expected there is a possibility of the postseason as long as Chicago is able to beat Minnesota in Minneapolis, a scenario which could put Wallace in play at the most important juncture of the season.
It's unlikely Wallace plays against the Redskins, however.
“I just got activated 20 minutes ago,” the wideout joked at his locker on Wednesday.
Offensive coordinator Mike Groh was also cautious in his expectations.
"We just have to get out there [at practice]," Groh said. "We have had a couple walk-throughs, so really haven't seen him do anything. Excited to see him back out there. It's nice to see him back in his jersey again.
“I’ll just take it day to day, see how I feel,” Wallace added. “... I feel like I can run but it’s different once you get on the football field and you’re actually playing. It’s going to be different getting out there against other players. But I’m up for the challenge.”
Last season Wallace was in Baltimore when the Ravens had an opportunity lock up a playoff spot in the final week, something that was going well until Cincinnati's Andy Dalton played spoiler with a 49-yard touchdown pass with under a minute to go and became a folk hero to the fans in Buffalo, who leapfrogged the Ravens.
“Unfortunately, it didn’t go the way we wanted it,” Wallace remembered. “We lost on like the last play of the game, fourth-and-12. That’s how Buffalo got in the playoffs. Hopefully, it turns out a lot different for us this year.”
If it doesn't Wallace, who signed a one-year deal in the offseason, may never really get an opportunity to prove what he was supposed to be with the Eagles.
“It’s tough," Wallace admitted. “I’ve learned one thing. You can’t look too far ahead.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen