Mike Wallace expects to hear boos

DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace is preparing himself for a rude homecoming. The former Steelers receiver said he's ready to hear it from Pittsburgh's towel-waiving fans when the Dolphins visit Sunday for a game with playoff implications.

Wallace bolted Pittsburgh last offseason in free agency to sign a five-year, $60 million contract with Miami. Sunday's game will be the first time Wallace returns to Pittsburgh since leaving the team that drafted him in the third round in 2009.

"I already know how my welcome is going to be -- it's not going to be too pretty," Wallace said after Tuesday's practice. "I'm looking forward to it, though. It's exciting."

Wallace said he "definitely" expects to hear boos from Steelers fans. He had a contract dispute with the team in 2012 and left Pittsburgh for Miami the following offseason.

Wallace said that while in Pittsburgh, "I always felt like I would be there forever." But he says he's happy in Miami and has moved on.

"Everything happens for reason," Wallace said. "At the end of the day, this is still a business, you know. You can't get caught up in too many feelings and emotions with that. You got to take the business as it is. Most people won't understand that, so I won't even try to explain."

On Sunday, Wallace and the Dolphins (6-6) will have a chance to end the playoff hopes for Pittsburgh (5-7) while improving their own prospects. Both teams are fighting for the final wild-card spot in the AFC.

Dolphins linebacker Dannell Ellerbe played against his former team -- the Baltimore Ravens -- for the first time in October. Ellerbe knows the emotions Wallace is feeling.

"I know this is going to be a big game for him," Ellerbe said of Wallace. "I know he wants this one. I know this is the one he wanted all year. This is going to be the most important game to him right now.

"It's the most important game to me, too, being that was my rival and that was his past team. We got something to fight for, let alone to fight and get into the playoffs."

Wallace has 56 receptions for 743 yards and three touchdowns this season.