Optimistic chatter of Mike Wallace returning to Steelers abounds in Pittsburgh

Could Wallace be coming back soon? (US Presswire)

The Mike Wallace Watch in Pittsburgh is nearing a full month, with the Steelers wide receiver thus far missing all of training camp. He's likely to miss the rest too, but there is lot of optimistic chatter about the possibility of the wideout joining the team next week.

Cornerback Ike Taylor, who's boys with Wallace and helped pass along his message of frustration earlier this offseason and who recently said the team would welcome Wallace back with open arms, was more than just a little coy about a possible return for the wideout.

“Next week?” Taylor asked with a big smile, per Jim Wexell of SteelCityInsider.com. “Hmmmm."

Taylor then said he's "got that feeling" that Wallace will return to Pittsburgh and join the team and that the wideout is "itching to come back." He's not the only optimistic one either.

Fellow wideout Emmanuel Sanders (again per Wexell) says there's a "light at the end of the tunnel" with regards to Wallace's holdout.

“He has his own little plan,” Sanders said. “But I know that myself, you guys and Steeler Nation are just ecstatic about him saying that he’s going to come back. For the longest time we didn’t know when he was going to come back, but it’s starting to look really good. There’s light at the end of the tunnel at training camp and for Wallace coming back.

"Everything is starting to come together."

There's still the whole matter of Wallace getting on the same page as Ben Roethlisberger, Wallace getting on the same page as new offensive coordinator Todd Haley and Wallace being in shape. Sanders cited Jerry Rice, who worked out on his own at times, and that's fair ... except that's Jerry Rice.

It wouldn't be shocking if Wallace was a little slow to get back into action, but it also wouldn't be shocking if -- assuming he is back next week -- Wallace is good to go by the time the regular season rolls around.

Him missing any real action would be surprising, especially since he'd start losing six-figure game checks, and Wallace knows that he needs to perform at a high level this year if he wants to land a big-time extension from the Steelers. Additionally, getting back in the team's good graces would go a long way towards him avoiding the franchise tag in 2013.

By the sound of things, he might have that opportunity as early as next week.

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CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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