Six wide receivers went in the first round of the 2009 NFL draft, including Darrius Heyward-Bey to the Raiders at No. 7, the first receiver selected. The Steelers just might have found the best of a receiver-rich draft with Mike Wallace in the third round.
He's surpassed his impressive rookie season with his play through nine games this year, catching 30 passes for 643 yards and seven touchdowns.
Wallace led all rookie wide receivers in 2009 with a 19.4-yard average on his 39 receptions for 756 yards and six touchdowns. He was picked at No. 84 out of Mississippi, well behind the likes of Percy Harvin, Michael Crabtree, Hakeem Nicks and Kenny Britt. The Raiders get their second look at Wallace in a game this Sunday.
"Whenever you can get a guy like that, it's special," Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "You find a guy that wants to be great without all the attitude.
"He's a guy that, every day you go out it's never too big for him, he never lets it get to his head. He really is just a great guy. He's humble and, as a quarterback, you love that. You love a receiver that has a fire and wants to be great but is humble about it."
Wallace is 12th in the league in receiving yards, and his average of 21.4 yards per catch tops all receivers with at least 30 receptions. He is tied for fifth in touchdowns with seven.
Heyward-Bey caught nine passes for 124 yards and one touchdown in 11 games his rookie season. He has 19 receptions for 266 yards and one touchdown this season.
Raiders defensive coordinator John Marshall said Wallace is filling the role as the Steelers' big-play receiver once held by Santonio Holmes, now with the New York Jets.
"Wallace is a bigger factor now because he is their downtown guy," Marshall said. "He is the guy with speed and the guy, when Roethlisberger is moving around in the pocket and buying time, heading to the end zone. "... He is a talented young man getting his opportunity and making the most of it."
Receiver Chaz Schilens (knee) practiced with his teammates for the first time since he underwent surgery midway through training camp. Cable said Schilens' limited work included some "positive and negative" results. Schilens won't play Sunday.
We want to "keep negotiations going, and I know everybody wants to avoid a lockout," Miller said. "The players definitely want to get something done, and as early as possible. We'd like to have some certainty for next year."
The suit filed by Stanford Matthew Mangham says McClain caused permanent injuries. Mangham is seeking $75,000, as well as punitive damages.
McClain traveled to Pittsburgh on Friday and couldn't be reached for comment.