The Steelers are impressed by Joey Porter Jr. and his play so far. With his strong play coming on, Porter has earned the starting job on the outside across from Patrick Peterson. Supplanting Levi Wallace, his performance against Calvin Ridley will go a significant way into showing just why he earned that distinction. He held Ridley to just 20 yards on two catches and four targets when matched against the veteran receiver.
Even with increased responsibilities, the second-round pick appeared in front of the home crowd. Mike Tomlin and Teryl Austin knew it was time for Joey Porter Jr. to start at this point. Pro Football Focus likes Porter, too. They have him ranked as the fourth-highest-graded rookie in the NFL this season with an 81.9 grade. For them, Porter has turned into an eraser for Pittsburgh this year.
“Porter has been erasing every receiver he has matched up with this season, and he’s quickly putting together an impressive resume,” PFF wrote. “This season, Porter leads all qualifying corners in yards allowed per coverage snap (0.25) and open target percentage (14.3%), both of which are key indicators in projecting future success at the position.”
Porter’s size, length, and physicality offer Pittsburgh more flexibility on the back end, allowing them to be more aggressive against more talented offensive attacks. His passer rating when targeted this season is now 9.8.
“I think it’s kind of what you guys kind of asked me a lot of times about him,” Austin said. “I’ll just say a few times, but maybe every week. But the point is, and what I kept telling you, is he’s growing, he’s getting better, and when it’s time, you’ll know it. I think it was his time. I think each week we’ve put him in, he’s played a larger role. He’s played better. He’s doing the things that we want him to do, and we feel comfortable now that he’s able to handle everything. So that’s why he’s the guy moving forward.”
Porter now has DeAndre Hopkins on his menu. But that is not new for Porter, who has faced players like Ridley, Davante Adams, and Odell Beckham. So, this will be another challenge for Porter as he plays more snaps and teams get a larger sample size of tape on him, but he has looked impressive.