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Shields To Match Speed For Speed With Wallace

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Shields To Match Speed For Speed With Wallace

DALLAS – One of the more intriguing matchups to watch on Super Bowl Sunday will be when Packers cornerback Sam Shields is lined up across from Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace: a classic contest of speed vs. speed.

It will be Shields' claimed 40-yard dash time of 4.2 seconds against the fleet feet of Wallace, who Packers cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt calls one of the fastest players in the game.

"I think he's one of the fastest players, not talking about wide receivers," said Whitt. "I think he's one of the fastest players. He can really, really accelerate; he can get in an out of cuts, and he's vertically fast, so he's a challenge."

Shields exceeded expectations this season. As an undrafted rookie out of Miami making the transition from wide receiver, he won the nickel cornerback job and went on to start eight games this season, including the playoffs.

The progress he's made since signing a free agent contract this past spring was evident during the NFC Championship victory over the Chicago Bears in which Shields earned unofficial MVP honors with four tackles, two interceptions and sack during the game that catapulted the Packers to the Super Bowl.

For his next challenge, Shields will be facing Wallace, the Steelers speedster who already beat the Packers once in 2009 scoring while the game-winning touchdown reception from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as time expired.

Much has changed since that time. Wallace beat backup cornerback Josh Bell, a midseason pickup, on that particular play, and few would argue the entire Packers has improved by leaps and bounds since that time.

The Packers have the no. 2 defense in the NFL this season against the pass and are no. 2 overall. Perhaps a big reason for the improvement is the presence of Shields and Pro Bowl cornerback Tramon Williams, who are both equipped to keep up step-for-step with opposing receivers.

According to Coach Whitt, he only expects Shields to face off against Wallace about 50% of the time as the Packers rookie lines up almost exclusively on the right side of the field. But when he's not, Williams provides just as much of a challenge.

"They could put him on Tramon's side, and Tramon runs just as well as Sam," said Whitt, "so it really doesn't matter to me who's on him."

Wallace had a fantastic season for the Steelers in 2010 catching 60 passes for 1,257 yards and 10 touchdown receptions, although he's been held to only four catches for 26 yards and no touchdowns so far during the playoffs.

Shields will be relied upon to continue to limit Wallace and is looking forward to the challenge.

"It's going to be a big challenge," said Shields. "You know, I'm fast, he's fast. It's going to be fun. Sunday's the game, and I can't wait."

At the very least he's hoping for an outcome better than the last time the Packers faced the Steelers a season ago. Even though Shields wasn't with the Packers in 2009 when Wallace made them pay with his last-second touchdown in Pittsburgh, the defensive back says he's watched the film from that game and hopes the outcome of the Super Bowl will be different.

"We watched the film, and people told me about it," said Shields. "They don't have it on too long, because it disappoints them. He got the game-winning touchdown, and we went back and made some corrections just by looking at that, and I don't think it'll happen again."

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (8) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Bearmeat's picture

Stillers fans are CONVINCED that Wallace will run right by Tramon and Shields. Wallace is good, but they way they act, he's faster than Carl Lewis in his prime!

Sam/Tramon have blanketed D. Jackson 2x, J. Knox 2x, D. Hester 2x, C. Johnson 2x, P. Harvin 2x, S. Rice, H Nicks - why would Wallace/Ward/Miller be any different? Answer: They won't. If PIT struggles to run, GB wins. Plain and simple.

I am not worried about PIT's passing game at all, except in scramble drill. That's when they are dangerous.

Damian's picture

I would be worried about Tramon being forced to run vertically with Wallace unless he has safety help over the top...but in a one on one situation that is a matchup I would hope to have Shields on Wallace for all it takes is a step and it is a TD

mark's picture

It all starts at the nose, where Raji will be going up against a gimpy Pouncey or a backup (Legursky). Granted, Legursky is no a slouch. Mendenhall had 100 yards behind him in the first half last week--against the Jets no less. But I think Raji is playing at such a high level right now. Jenkins too. Those guys are going to force that Steeler o-line to collapse inside, so that our LBs can raise hell off the edge, or come inside unblocked. I also expect Capers to be very aggressive with the blitz. Ben won't have a lot of time on Sunday. It's going to be fun to watch. Go Pack!

Paul Ott Carruth's picture

I have a feeling Jenkins is going to have a monster game. He's going to be a free agent so he's playing with a lot of money on the line in the profession's biggest game.

jdondlinger's picture

No doubt in my mind that Tramon and Sam can match up with the speed of Wallace. Not worries on the least bit.

BigbyATTACK's picture

I'm not too worried about their recievers, either. However, if they throw to Mendy out of the backfield like Chicago did with Forte, then I'm hesitant. It seemed like they got 10 yards at will with screens and short throws over the middle.

jdondlinger's picture

Covering the middle always seems to be a problem for the Pack. Scared of Mendenhall and Miller over the middle.

packeraaron's picture

Nature of this defense. If you watch the Steelers for an extended amount of time you'll see they have the same issues there.

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