Will late start hurt Mike Wallace?

The Pittsburgh Steelers undoubtedly receive a nice boost on offense with speedster Mike Wallace returning after a lengthy holdout, but there's still some concern that Wallace will take some time to readjust. 

Ultimately, Wallace's holdout was poorly timed. He and his agent might have figured that the circumstances in Pittsburgh — you know, the fact that they've revamped the entire offense under new coordinator Todd Haley — would've increased the pressure on the Steelers to cave and give the 26-year-old Pro Bowler a long-term deal.

But in the end, the Steelers called Wallace's bluff and now he's left with a one-year tender and less than two weeks to catch up on what he's missed. 

Haley's offense is dramatically different from what the Steelers ran during Wallace's first three seasons in the league. Pittsburgh might not go deep as often as they did in the past, which means Wallace is probably going to have to refine his route-running skills and learn to use attributes other than just his speed to contribute. 

Yes, a guy with sheer speed like that can often use his wheels to compensate for schematic struggles, but here's what also hurts Wallace: To open the season, he'll face two of the league's best cornerbacks, starting with Darrelle Revis and the Jets in Week 1 following by Champ Bailey and the Broncos Week 2.

If I'm a Wallace fantasy owner, I'm thrilled that he's back. But I'd also be cautious early. Haley is the kind of coach who could completely reject Wallace's presence in the offense until he thinks he's grasped it. And considering the corners he'll be going up against early, as well as the possibility that he's not yet in Week 1 shape, you might want to lower your expectations for the first fortnight of 2012.

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at theScore.com (covering Super Bowls XLIV, XLV and XLVI), a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at Deadspin, FoxSports.com, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Bloguin, but his day gig has him covering all things NFC East for Bleacher Report.