Allen Park — The Lions faced wide receiver Mike Wallace last year as the speedster caught five passes for 51 yards and a touchdown with the Dolphins in Week 10. On Sunday, the Lions will see him on a new team, the Vikings, and despite limited film of him in Minnesota’s offense, they’re expecting the same deep threat.
“He’s been in this league a little while, and he can run,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said of the seven-year veteran. “He can create problems for you. That’s the one thing I think that we don’t underestimate is they got speed on the outside. They can run and they can give you some problems."
Caldwell described Wallace as a guy who “can break a game wide open.” In Week 1, he had six catches for 63 yards, and Caldwell said Wallace appears to have built a good rapport so far with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Wallace signed a five-year, $60 million deal with Miami before the 2013 season, but the Dolphins traded him to Minnesota in March.
“They don’t pay him all that money for nothing, so they want to get the ball in his hands,” Lions cornerback Darius Slay said.
Although the 6-foot Wallace’s long speed is his best attribute, Slay said the Vikings are trying to use him more on intermediate routes with hopes that he can turn shorter catches into long gains.
While stopping running back Adrian Peterson will be the Lions’ first priority Sunday, the Lions are aware the Vikings could have an improved pass game this year. Minnesota also features 6-foot-2 wide receiver Charles Johnson (Grand Valley State) and 6-foot-6 tight end Kyle Rudolph.
Defensive end Darryl Tapp said knowing a guy like Wallace is on the outside provides extra motivation for linemen to get to the quarterback quicker, and whether it’s Slay or Rashean Mathis covering him, the Lions have to limit his opportunities.
“I know they’re going to try to target him a lot because he’s a primary guy — great challenge,” Slay said of Wallace. “He’s faster than most of the guys I’ve seen. He gets to his top-end speed very fast.