The final game of the Eagles’ 2018 season is just 25 days away, but veteran Mike Wallace is still optimistic he’ll be able to make a return from injured reserve.
Wallace, 32, broke his fibula back in Week 2 and has been on IR ever since.
In the locker room Wednesday, Wallace said his recovery is on schedule and he has been making big improvements every week. He’s still hoping to return this season.
“I’ve been running. I’m just not as fast as I want to be,” Wallace said. “But that’s expected. I broke my ankle like two months ago.”
Wallace said the injury is a 12-week injury and it has now been 12 weeks. His fibula is completely healed, but now, it’s all about getting back in shape and getting fast.
Wallace is known as a speed receiver and that’s not quite all the way back yet.
“I can run,” he said. “I can run pretty fast. I can beat all y’all.”
But can he beat NFL cornerbacks? That’s obviously the level the Eagles would need to get Wallace back to if they’re going to bring him back from the IR.
Since the Eagles already designated tight end Richard Rodgers to return from IR, they have just one more designation to go. The only two candidates are Wallace and fellow receiver Mack Hollins. Once one of them is cleared to practice, they will have 21 days where they won’t count on the active roster. The player could be activated to the active roster at any time.
But with 25 days left in the regular season, it’s fair to wonder if Wallace is a little overly optimistic about returning this season.
The Eagles could certainly use a healthy Wallace. While the Eagles’ offense has been better the last two weeks, the one area where they’ve been lacking all season is big passing plays down the field. They have just five passing plays of 40-plus yards this season. Just nine teams have fewer.
That just happens to be Wallace’s specialty. Since he entered the NFL in 2009, his 43 catches of 40-plus yards rank second in the league behind DeSean Jackson.
“That’s the frustrating thing,” he said. “I’ve been doing that for nine years before this year. I have been doing it at a high level for a long time. I know we have guys who can do it but for one reason or another, we just haven’t had those plays. Just knowing myself and my experiences and what I can do in the league, it’s frustrating to not be out there, taking the top off and helping my guys celebrate.”
While Wallace hasn’t been able to play since Week 2, he said he’s been able to still feel like a part of the team. The close-knit locker room — one of the reasons he came to Philadelphia — has been able to keep him upbeat through the first major injury of his career. Before this season, Wallace had played at least 15 games in all nine of his years in the NFL.
He’s been at some of the Eagles’ games since the injury, but when he’s not, he said he watches in front of his TV like a fan, cheering on his teammates. He’s desperately hoping the Eagles can keep things going long enough for him to return to meaningful games.
“However much you can hope, that’s how much I’m hoping,” he said.
In those two games he got to suit up early this season, Wallace was targeted three times and didn’t have a single catch.
Since then, he’s had to watch. And that’s been the hardest part.
“You see those guys out there having fun, nobody wants to be rehabbing,” Wallace said. “Just to play the game. I’m playing Madden. I don’t want to play Madden, I want to play real football. I want to be out there with my guys and do some of those celebrations with Golden (Tate) and Carson (Wentz) and Alshon (Jeffery) and those guys. I’m excited about it. It’s going to happen. We just have to keep holding it down and they will.”
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