Mike Wallace is a talented receiver with top-end speed. So why then, did he fail the Baltimore Ravens’ conditioning test, as was reported on Thursday?
The Ravens put all of their players through the test and they won’t let the players participate in training camp until they pass it. Apparently the test is notoriously difficult, and The Baltimore Sun reported that Haloti Ngata, Jacoby Jones and Lardarius Webb are among those who have failed it in the past. Furthermore, coach John Harbaugh said that Wallace passed five of the six benchmarks but was unable to make the final one. He could get another chance to pass the test on Thursday before being allowed to practice.
So maybe this is no big deal. Maybe Wallace will pass today and this thing will quickly be forgotten as Wallace goes on to play a Pro Bowl season with the Ravens. Maybe he will be an immediate fit with Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, a dangerous threat who can stretch the defense and open up things underneath.
But you can also consider this a bit concerning, a small warning sign of sorts. First of all, this is not the best way, as an incoming free agent entering his first training camp with his new team, for Wallace to make a first impression. Especially when coming off a rather dreadful 2015 season in Minnesota, catching just 39 passes for a career-worst 473 yards.
As you’ll recall, Wallace essentially threw Minnesota quarterback Teddy Bridgewater under the bus after signing with Baltimore, saying “I knew I wasn’t going back to Minnesota. I was like, ‘I need a good quarterback. I need a quarterback who I know is proven and can get things done.’ Flacco, he’s always been that guy. I’ve always loved his deep ball. Always.”
Wallace was trying to praise Flacco, but the way he framed it was inelegantly done and seemed to blame Bridgewater and the Vikings for his poor 2015 season. When you also recall that Wallace was at times at odds with Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill when he was a Dolphin, you start to see a pattern of someone who has talent but likes to blame others when things go wrong.
Wallace has premium talent but has never delivered on the immense promise he showed in those first few seasons in Pittsburgh. He declined greatly in his final season with the Steelers, largely underachieved in two seasons in Miami and was a disaster in Minnesota.
Now set to turn 30 on Monday, Wallace is now five years removed from his last 1,000-yard season, which was also his only Pro Bowl year. Then he shows up and fails the Ravens’ conditioning test. It might not be a big deal, but it’s certainly bad form.
There will be no shortage of schadenfreude in Minnesota – and possibly in Miami as well — if Wallace fails in Baltimore like he did with the Vikings, and you can bet fans of the Vikings, who paid him nearly $10 million last season, will be watching closely.
One thing for certain is that Wallace will not be able to blame the quarterback this time around. This time, it’s all on him to perform.