Steelers Mike Wallace needs to step up in Week 12 vs. Cleveland Browns

Justin K. Aller

Regardless of the fact he'll have his third quarterback in as many games throwing to him, Steelers WR Mike Wallace needs to improve on his 33 yard average in the past three games.

Plaxico Burress may or may not be the best option.

That option, though, doesn't appear to be Mike Wallace, either.

Since Antonio Brown suffered a high ankle sprain in the first quarter of the Steelers' Week 9 win over the Giants, Wallace has 10 catches on 20 targets for 103 yards, two touchdowns and one critical fumble in the Week 11 loss to Baltimore.

Granted, those 20 targets are split between two quarterbacks, and it'll be a third in Week 12 when Charlie Batch starts against Cleveland, but Wallace's numbers have dropped off noticeably over the last three games.

It's hard to question opportunity; 20 targets in three games is certainly enough to suggest he's getting looks. It's fair to mention the slight difference in ability between Byron Leftwich and Ben Roethlisberger. It'll be even steeper when you add in Charlie Batch (although Batch has hit Wallace on passes of 20 yards or more in each of his last three starts dating back to 2010).

Is it the offense? His deep patterns themselves may not being called early or often, but he said it himself, in this offense, they need to create their big plays through runs after the catch. There are currently 51 other players in the NFL who have more 20-plus yard receptions - including two on his own team (Brown and Emmanuel Sanders).

He had a beauty against the Giants, though, turning the corner and exploding up the sideline for a 51-yard touchdown.

Since then? Seven catches, 37 yards, 15 targets, one touchdown.

With a Steelers offense in a brutal transition period, the established stars and veterans inside it need to step up and make plays.

Will that be Wallace?

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