EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — A former Vikings quarterback believes newly acquired receiver Mike Wallace will help the current starter.
Rich Gannon, who co-hosts The SiriusXM Blitz with Bruce Murray, said Monday that Minnesota will try to capitalize on Wallace's speed in a feature role.
"They will have him screaming through the middle of that secondary on those post routes and post corner routes," Gannon said. "These are cuts that (Vikings Offensive Coordinator) Norv Turner likes to run, and I think Mike Wallace is a perfect fit."
Drafted by Pittsburgh in the third round in the 2009 NFL Draft, Wallace quickly became known as a deep threat, leading the league with a per-catch average of 19.4 yards as a rookie. He upped that the following season to 21.0 yards per catch (career-high 1,257 yards on 60 receptions). Murray noted the per-catch averages for Wallace went to 16.6 in his third season to 13.1 in his fourth with the Steelers.
Wallace then joined Miami in 2013 after being courted by Minnesota and had per-catch averages of 12.7 and 12.9 with the Dolphins. In two seasons near South Beach, Wallace had 140 receptions for 1,792 yards and 15 touchdowns, including 10 scoring catches (nine on plays inside the red zone) this past season.
"Bruce, I think the expectations were a bit unrealistic," Gannon said shortly before Wallace phoned-in for a segment. "I think he was raw in just about every phase of his game. We knew he had the speed and the quickness, but he's still learning how to play the position when he came over from Pittsburgh.
"I think he's at the point now where he's played in Pittsburgh, he's played in Miami, now he goes to a different system in Minnesota, on the turf with a young quarterback, and we're going to find out how good of a player he can be, but no question, he has the speed that gets your attention when you put the film on," Gannon continued. "He can eat up space in a short period. He has the ability to jump on a defender and that's what really gets your attention. He quickly eats up the cushion that he sees from corners in coverage week-in and week-out."
Turner will be the fifth offensive coordinator Wallace has played for in as many seasons: Bruce Arians and Todd Haley in Pittsburgh, Mike Sherman and Bill Lazor in Miami. Wallace also will be on his third starting quarterback after playing with Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, who had already won two Super Bowls by the time Wallace entered the NFL, and Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill, the eighth overall pick in 2012.
Wallace said he and Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater have been swapping some text messages and he looks forward to building the relationship with the reigning Pepsi Rookie of the Year. Wallace told Gannon and Murray he had followed Bridgewater since college.
Get a behind-the-scenes look at Mike Wallace's first day as a Viking.
"The accuracy is exciting, to see a guy that can pinpoint it. That was my thing in watching him at Louisville, was how accurate he was, a guy who looks like he has a soft touch to the passes he throws," Wallace said. "Smart guy, just looks like he has an infectious personality, a smile. I haven't seen him frown on TV or anything, even when he was going through the situation of the draft, I saw him smile through it all, so just positive. I've never seen, I don't know him, but I've never seen from a far, anything bad. It's all positive vibes from him."
Wallace said he thinks he and Bridgewater will be energetic through any growing pains they might encounter.
"We're going to grow together, so I'm here to be positive, I'm here for a fresh start and to work well," Wallace said. "Hopefully we connect together from day one."
The Vikings are scheduled to begin their offseason workout program on April 20. Until then, Wallace told Gannon and Murray that he plans to work out with former Steelers teammate Emmanuel Sanders in Houston with "the footwork king" Rasheed Whitfield, who has previously worked with Le'Veon Bell.
The goal will be to further increase Wallace's ability to create space between him and defenders coming out of cuts on routes.
"Emmanuel has been going to him for about three weeks now and said he really likes it," Wallace said. "Once I get down there, tomorrow and throughout the rest of the week and offseason, I'll be going down there, so hopefully I can get better with my footwork so I can get in and out of my breaks faster."