In just his third year in the NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace has developed into one of the most dangerous deep threats in the league.
Don’t count Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb as being impressed.
Despite Wallace leading the NFL in catches of 40 yards or more (six) and ranking fourth in receiving yards (800), Webb said Wednesday that he thinks Wallace’s teammate Antonio Brown is a better receiver.
“Every time somebody asks me, they’re always talking about Mike Wallace,” Webb said. “But they have a guy in No. 84, Antonio Brown, who’s better than [No.] 17 in all aspects of the game. A great returner, a great wide receiver. They have a great corps with [No.] 88 [Emmanuel Sanders]. They’re actually a better team with 88 and not Hines Ward. Without Hines playing this week, it’s going to be kind of crazy because I’m used to a Baltimore Ravens game and a Pittsburgh game – it’s supposed to be Hines Ward and Ed Reed. That’s who you really think about – Ray Lewis, people like that, [Steelers outside linebacker James] Harrison. They’re supposed to play. They’re what makes this game, this game. But they have a great group, man.”
The numbers don’t support Webb’s claim. In addition to his NFL rankings, Wallace leads Pittsburgh in catches (43) and touchdowns (five). Brown ranks second on the team in both receptions (34) and yards (431).
Brown is the team’s primary return specialist. He ranks fifth in the league in kick return average (28.9) and is tied for sixth in punt return average (12.1).
Ward did not play in the Steelers’ 25-17 victory over the New England Patriots Sunday due to an ankle sprain. His status for Sunday night’s showdown is unclear.
Webb praised Ward’s influence on Pittsburgh’s young corps of receivers – but not without beginning with a dig when asked if the Steelers are better without Ward.
“Yeah, very dangerous without Hines. I guess Hines slows them down,” Webb said. “No, just playing. But Hines makes those guys. He’s molded those guys into him – the same attitude. So they’re a great team. We know we’re going to have to come in with our ‘A’ game, especially on their home field.”