Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace (11) runs the ball into the end zone for a touchdown during the third quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. (Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports)
(C+P) — The Minnesota Vikings wrapped up their final practice Thursday before heading off to training camp and with the return of Adrian Peterson the Vikes look to hear the horn blow all the way to the Playoffs in 2016. The players are reflecting what Mike Zimmer wants them to be like as far as personality and game approach.
That includes 28-year-old receiver Mike Wallace, who was traded from Miami to Minnesota just a couple of months ago for a fifth-round pick. Wallace seems to have settled as the Vikings starting ‘Z’ receiver in Norv Turner’s Vikings offense and hasn’t shied away from playful behavior with his new staff and teammates.
However, the standing around was only temporary. Wallace quickly took part in his post-practice ritual of catching footballs from the JUGS machine with teammates. He seemed comfortable, even though he was always heading to Miami when the Dolphins and Vikings were the highest bidders in 2013 free agency.
Wallace’s departure from Miami didn’t come without turbulence, but the flanker seems to be blending in with a coaching staff led by Zimmer and Turner, both passionate personalities that aren’t afraid to get into a player’s face while instructing in the ways of the great, Bud Grant.
The quarterback-to-receiver rapport seemed to be non-existent in Miami, where Wallace caught just over half of his passes from Tannehill in his first of two seasons with the Dolphins. The pair began to mesh better last season, with Wallace tying a career high with 10 touchdown catches. But Wallace didn’t feel the Dolphins system utilized his talents that were obvious when he was in Pittsburgh with a strong-armed quarterback in Roethlisberger.
Vikings running back coach Kirby Wilson spent seven seasons with Pittsburgh and all four of Wallace’s years with the Steelers and has high hopes and faith in the receiver. That’s a significant step for a Minnesota offense that invested heavily by signing Wallace without any contract adjustments in 2015.
Wallace’s contract with the Vikings makes him the second-highest-paid player with a $9.9 million salary cap hit. It was a necessary step for the Vikings that have not had a go-to receiving threat the past two seasons. Wallace has the ability to stretch the field and scare defenses.
Hopefully, Wallace will have the opportunity to show off his worth in Minnesota. With Teddy Bridgewater at the helm, there is a real possibility that Wallace will put on a high-flying show.