Mike Wallace didn’t care that in a real game, Nick Foles would have probably already been sacked. He didn’t care that, after he pulled in a 40-yard bomb from Foles on the first play of Saturday’s practice and popped up, Malcolm Jenkins punched the ball away from him. Wallace didn’t even care that it was just a practice in early August.
Nothing was gonna stop him from enjoying the moment.
So after catching the deep ball — a hallmark of his nine-year career — the 32-year-old lifted his shoulders, took a step forward and implored the crowd of 35,000-plus ravenous Eagles fans to get pumped up. They happily obliged.
“The crowd was nice,” Wallace said with a big grin.
If any fan in attendance Saturday was disappointed they didn’t get to see Wallace in the preseason opener, he quickly made up for it Saturday, hauling in a long ball. That’s something he wants fans to get used to in Philly.
Sure, he does other things. But the long ball … that’s Mike Wallace.
It was him when he entered the league back in 2009. And just dare to ask him if he still has that speed.
“Is my name still Mike?” Wallace said.
“That’s not going nowhere,” Wallace said. “Over the last, however many years, I still lead the league in 50-plus plays. You gotta remember that.”
On that, Wallace is pretty close. Since he entered the NFL in 2009, his 26 catches of 50-plus yards actually rank second behind DeSean Jackson’s 36.
And in the last five years, Wallace is third on the list with 12.
But we’re really splitting hairs here, aren’t we? Wallace is still fast. He still had three 50-plus-yarders last season and he certainly doesn’t seem to have lost a step based on what we’ve seen during his first few months in Philly.
Over his career, it’s become obvious that many corners would rather take a few steps back and give Wallace a cushion. He seems pretty proud of that. And he doesn’t care if he lines up against a wily vet or a fresh-eyed youngster.
“I look forward to anybody. Anybody can get it. I don’t care who you are. Old young, you, her,” Wallace said, showboating now a little bit for a small group of reporters. “Anybody can get it. I don’t spare nobody. I love competition.”
We have yet to see him in an Eagles uniform for a game, but it seems very likely Wallace will be a significant upgrade over Torrey Smith. And it starts with the burners.
The long ball, of course, takes some work. It’s about building a rapport between quarterback and receiver. Early in training camp, it seemed like all the QBs were under-throwing him pretty often. It took a little while for them to adjust to his speed.
Wallace admitted it would be ideal to have Carson Wentz out there during 11-on-11s to build a rapport with him, but he doesn’t seem worried about it either. They get some work in 7-on-7s and work away from practice too; sometimes before, during and after.
When Wentz does get on the field for Wallace in a real game, I think we know what Wallace will tell him: Let it fly.
He’s 32 years old but still has those wheels.
“I just talk to God every night,” Wallace said. “I ask him to bless me, to keep it going. And he does. We have a good relationship. So he said he got me.”
It looks like the Eagles got a deep threat.