PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) –When Joey Porter, Junior dreamed about that first NFL game and it probably looked like more like the first home preseason appearance. You get a pick, your dad comes down from the stands, you win the game and celebrate. Instead, last Sunday Porter played seven mostly meaningless snaps.
Obviously, Porter was hoping for more.
“You always want that,” Porter, Junior said Thursday. “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.”
Porter, Junior said that changes week-to-week seeing how he fits in the scheme of the opponent’s offense and go from there. He says he knows the defense, not that there aren’t things to work on, but feels real comfortable with it. As of now though, Porter is a one-trick pony.
Asked if Porter is only being part of the dime is the function of assimilating him as a rookie or that they have better options playing outside?
“That's kind of where he is right now,” said Steelers defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. No elaboration, just those eight words.
He’s not the only rookie beginning his career that way, although defensive lineman Keeanu Benton likely will get more snaps due to the injury to Cam Heyward, he doesn’t start. Broderick Jones could start this week, only if Chukwuma Okorafor is out with a concussion. Nick Herbig has shown promise, but no way he starts at outside linebacker without an injury. Tight end Darnell Washington may be part of the committee making up for Diontae Johnson, but he didn’t catch a pass in his opener.
“All of those guys are performing well,” said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. “We expect those guys to be contributors not only over the course of their career here, but this year. We dipped their toe in the water in Week One, we tried to have limited roles in an effort to control what it is that they were preparing for.”
“And so, if you've got a narrow focus in terms of your preparation, you tee up the potential for a nice high flowing performance and then we build from that as we move. We feel comfortable with our depth and competition across all positions. And so, that afforded us an opportunity to do that with those guys. No negative reports on the trajectory of their performance or how they assimilate themselves into this journey. You should expect their contributions to continue to grow.”
That’s a long way of saying don’t expect a lot of Porter on Sunday, barring injury.
It will be his first Monday Night Football game of his career and it’s against a rival team in the Cleveland Browns. Porter is hoping it reminds him of a big game in Beaver Stadium.
“Hopefully it brings a little Penn State vibe when we have our night games,” Porter said.
He’s looking for a little more like the Penn State snap counts, but that will have to wait for now.