New receiver Wallace bounces back from failed conditioning test
— Training camp didn’t begin according to plan for Mike Wallace. He felt like a child being punished as he was forced to watch his new team’s first practice.
The recently acquired veteran wide receiver failed the Baltimore Ravens’ conditioning test before camp began. He would not allowed to practice until he passed it.
“Anytime you have to watch somebody else play, and I have to exercise inside like a little kid, that’s no fun,” Wallace said. “The older kids are outside playing, and I have to stay inside.”
Wallace passed the following day and has been a full participant since the second practice. He’s played for four NFL teams in his career, but said that Baltimore’s conditioning test was the toughest he’s faced.
“That’s in the past. I passed. It’s a tough test. Anybody who comes here, I advise them that they better be ready for that test. That’s got to be the toughest conditioning test in the league,” he said. “It kind of surprised me how hard it was. You think about it and you think, ‘Alright, I’ve been working out four or five days a week. I’m
going to breeze this test.’ You get out there, and it’s a lot tougher on the legs.”
Wide receivers coach Bobby Engram didn’t read too far into Wallace’s failed test.
“I have no problems with his work ethic,” he said. “I think he was a little frustrated by not making the test. It is a tough test, but I think he learned a lesson. Having this many years under his belt, you can still learn as a player of things you can do better. I’m ex- cited to have him here.”
Wallace had his best practice as a Raven on Sunday. After dropping a pass early, he received a few words of encouragement from head coach John Harbaugh.
Wallace went on to catch a pair of touchdown passes from quarterback Joe Flacco.
“I thought he looked good today,” Harbaugh said. “He made a few catches. I don’t think we saw any deep ones, so we’re still looking for those. Maybe that’s a credit to our secondary as well, getting on top of those things.”
Wallace’s speed makes him the deep threat that the Ravens lacked a season ago. The former Pittsburgh Steeler, who spent two years with the Miami Dolphins before playing last season with the Minnesota Vikings, chose to join Baltimore over other interested teams partly because of Flacco’s strong arm.
Wallace took part in organized team activities and minicamp, but was unable to develop on-field chemistry with his new quarterback as Flacco sat out to rehab last year’s knee injury.
After three practices with Flacco, Wallace knows he made the right decision to join the Ravens.
“It’s been great so far. Joe is a really good guy, calm guy, easy to talk to and understand. He’s just a vet guy. He has a big arm and, I see it every day in practice. I’m excited about it,” he said. “The play-calling is just aggressive, and that’s what I was looking for.”
The aggressive play calling is done by second-year offensive coordinator Marc Tresman. Adapting to a new play caller is an annual challenge for Wallace.
The Steelers switched offensive coordinators in between his last two seasons in Pittsburgh. He played for different coordinators in his two seasons with the Dolphins, and the move to Minnesota meant yet another play caller.
“I’ve never had a problem with that, honestly. This is my sixth offense in six years,” Wallace said. “Schemes can only change so much. Names change, but at the end of the day, there’s only so many plays you can run in football. I just have to get the terminology down.”
His latest offensive coordinator said Wallace is learning the offense as quickly as he hoped he would.
“His attitude is outstanding. He’s in the process of learning this offense and he’s right on schedule to do that,” Trestman said.
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Wide receiver Mike Wallace had his best practice as a member of the Ravens Sunday.