‘You Always Want That’: CB Joey Porter Jr. Hungry For Larger Role After Logging Just 7 Snaps In Debut
Rookie DL Keeanu Benton played 29 snaps in his NFL debut. OLB Nick Herbig played 16. TE Darnell Washington played 16. T Broderick Jones wouldn’t have played at all if Chukwuma Okorafor didn’t get hurt. And CB Joey Porter Jr. played just seven snaps.
Not quite the instant impact rookie class that many were anticipating back in May, but that doesn’t means things can’t change in a hurry. As these young players get their feet wet, they will see more opportunities, should they earn them. That includes Porter, who is hungry for a larger role after being limited to dime packages against the San Francisco 49ers.
“You always want that”, he told reporters earlier this week, via Jeff Hathhorn of 93.7 The Fan. “It’s on the coaches for how we fit in the scheme of how we are trying to play the game. As I always say, whenever Coach calls me or needs me, I’ll be out there”.
Of course, it would be ill-advised not to be out there if the coach calls you, but what the less pedantically inclined see him saying is that he feels he is prepared for whatever role the Steelers are prepared to give him. A full-time starting job or just a situational sub-package role, it doesn’t make a difference.
Drafted 32nd overall out of Penn State, Porter was widely regarded as one of the top cornerback prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft class. Few anticipated that he would fall out of the first round. Pittsburgh certainly did not, and their 2022 trade with the Chicago Bears to get the top pick of the second round in exchange for WR Chase Claypool put them in the position to grab him.
But they didn’t necessarily draft him to provide an immediate impact. They already had Levi Wallace returning from last season and added Patrick Peterson in free agency. They wanted him to learn from Peterson, which is what he is doing.
But he would love to learn while playing. I’m sure that will happen, in time, though it may be a few games before he sees much more playing time outside of select sub-package roles. Then again, if Wallace and Peterson continue to play as they did in the season opener, they may be more compelled to get him on the field, because neither of them played well.
Monday’s game against the Cleveland Browns will be an interesting challenge, highlighted by WR Amari Cooper. There is also Elijah Moore, acquired via trade this offseason, though they have been using him predominantly in the slot.
With no hard and fast fifth defensive back, the Steelers have a variety of options to play with. They used Chandon Sullivan as the nickel, sometimes using an extra safety between Damontae Kazee and Keanu Neal. Peterson, by the way, saw no more slot snaps than an outside cornerback normally might in a game.