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Antonio Brown 'ready' to step up if Mike Wallace bolts

Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace have formed one of the league's better receiving tandems over the past two seasons, but with free agency just weeks away, Wallace looms as a goner.

Brown says he's prepared to play a lead role if Wallace bolts for greener pastures.

"I am always ready," Brown told the team's official site. "I am ready no matter who is here, no matter who goes. I am always working on getting better. I will be ready no matter what the situation is."

Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert last month labeled it "very doubtful" the team would slap the franchise tag on anyone this offseason, and Pittsburgh doesn't appear keen on paying the $9 million to $10 million per season Wallace is expected to command on the open market.

Wallace's departure would leave Brown at the top of a receiver group that includes Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery. Replacing Wallace's production won't be easy -- he's accounted for 235 catches for 4,042 yards and 32 touchdowns in his four NFL seasons -- but the Steelers have navigated player movement as well as any team in football over the past decade. Brown understands the drill.

"Whoever stays in the room, we just have to know the importance of working hard and with the right attitude," Brown said. "We haven't really won anything, we haven't done anything, so we have to take the poor-man approach that we don't have anything and we are hungry to get everything and appreciate what we have."

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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