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With Mike Wallace holding out for a new contract, according to ESPN, the Pittsburgh Steelers could be in big trouble next season.
Without their top wideout, the Steelers would be left with a huge hole in their offense. You cannot replace a player like Wallace.
He is an elite vertical threat with his blazing speed and has opposing teams game-planning to stop him all week.
If the Steelers want to continue to be one of the dominant teams in the NFL, the following players will have to come up big if Wallace continues to hold out.
If Mike Wallace holds out, Ben Roethlisberger will still have a dynamic receiver in Antonio Brown.
In his second season in the NFL and his first year as a starter, Brown had over 1,100 receiving yards. He even had more targets (123) than Mike Wallace had last season.
Brown only had two touchdowns last year, but with no Wallace, he will be Big Ben’s top target and should score plenty of times.
Some may think that without Wallace, Brown will not be as productive because he will be going up against opposing teams’ top cornerbacks.
The fact of the matter is, Brown is going to be the go-to guy for one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. This will make Brown even more productive than last season.
Not only could the Pittsburgh Steelers be without Mike Wallace, but they could also be without Rashard Mendenhall, who may be out for the 2012 season due to injury.
The next man up is running back Isaac Redman, who showed flashes of dominance in his two starts last year. In those two starts, Redman ran for a total of 213 yards and averaged close to six yards per carry.
With no Wallace, the Steelers are not going to have a dominant receiving threat. Antonio Brown is good, but he is not Wallace.
The Steelers are going to rely on Redman to provide an efficient run game for them. He will be getting plenty of touches and will step up next season.
If Redman performs well enough, the Steelers could have a new starting running back for the future. Mendenhall is slated to be a free agent at the end of the 2012 season, and they will not want to give a running back coming off ACL surgery a contract extension, as discussed by Lee Andrew Henderson of Yahoo! Contributor Network.
With Hines Ward gone, Heath Miller is now Ben Roethlisberger’s longest-tenured target.
Miller has been catching passes from Big Ben for seven seasons now, so the two of them definitely have chemistry.
This chemistry is going to be huge if Wallace holds out, because the rest of the Steelers’ receivers are young or have not been with the team for a while.
Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders are both entering their third seasons, while Jericho Cotchery will be entering his second season with the Steelers.
Miller has consistently been one of Roethlisberger’s top targets for years now. Over the past three seasons, he has caught 169 passes for 1,932 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.
Look for Miller to become more involved in the passing offense and to become a leader for the younger receiving targets.
Emmanuel Sanders is going to be the X-factor for the Pittsburgh Steelers next year if Mike Wallace holds out.
Sanders has good speed and will have to step up as the Steelers’ No. 2 wide receiver.
Though he did not blow away anyone last season, he had a couple of solid games. In their playoff game against the Denver Broncos, Sanders came up big by catching six passes for 81 yards.
If all goes well, Sanders should have a very similar season to Antonio Brown’s 2011 season.