Mike Wallace might not turn into a journeyman after all.
For the first time since 2013 and 2014, the Ravens wide receiver is set to play for the same team two years in a row. But this year, he feels his job description goes beyond just playing.
Steve Smith Sr.’s retirement left some big shoes to fill when it comes to leadership, and Wallace says that he can fill those shoes.
“I just have to curse a couple more people out, choke a couple more people out. I was telling Bobby last meeting that I’ve got to come back in with a different attitude and I’ve got to start pushing people around a little bit more, because Steve isn’t going to be here and somebody has to do it,” Wallace told The Baltimore Sun, speaking about his final meeting last season with wide receivers coach Bobby Engram. “So, I’m going to take over that role. Breshad (Perriman), if he gets out of line, I’m going to smack him up a little bit. Anybody, no matter who it is. So, I’ve got to take on the Steve role.”
Wallace wasn’t serious about smacking around his teammates, but no receiver currently on the Ravens’ roster has more than three years of experience. Wallace has been in the league for eight years, so when the soon-to-be-31-year-old speaks, the younger receivers are likely to listen. Wallace’s 72 catches last season were two more than Smith and he was second on the team in receptions to Dennis Pitta.
Breshad Perriman, a first-round draft pick in 2015, caught 33 passes last season and the Ravens could use a big step forward from him.
Wallace can help with that even if “leader” probably isn’t the first word that comes to mind when thinking about him. If someone doesn’t light a fire under a group of receivers who outside of Wallace and Smith combined for 40 catches last season, the Ravens could miss the playoffs for a third straight year.