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Joey Porter Jr. Isn’t Panicking after Penalty-Filled 2023 Season

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joey Porter Jr. isn’t panicking after a penalty filled rookie season in 2023.

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Pittsburgh Steelers CB Joey Porter Jr.
Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joey Porter Jr. talks with field judge Jeff Shears during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Acrisure Stadium on Dec. 23, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — Being among the league leaders as a rookie is something that most NFL players can only dream of, but Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joey Porter Jr. did just that in 2023.

The only problem was that he was near the top of the NFL in something you don’t want to be leading in: penalties.

Porter finished tied for sixth in the league last year for the most penalty flags thrown at a player. With 12 total penalties, Porter was tied for second among all defensive backs, and tied for the lead among NFL rookies.

Most of the league leaders in times flagged are offensive linemen, with Jawaan Taylor of the Kansas City Chiefs lapping the field with 23 flags in 2023. Nine of the 13 players with 12 or more flags in 2023 were offensive linemen.

That left defensive back L’Jarius Sneed, who had 18 flags in second place, defensive end Myles Garrett with 13 flags tied for third and Porter and Charvarius Ward with 12 flags tied for sixth.

Porter earned four fouls for defensive pass interference, three for defensive holding, two for offsides, two for face masks and one for illegal use of the hands.

Pittsburgh Steelers CB Joey Porter Jr. Stefon Diggs Buffalo Bills

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joey Porter Jr. tackles Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs during a playoff game at Highmark Stadium on Jan. 15, 2024. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

It was a flying yellow blemish on what was an otherwise outstanding rookie season. But it’s not one that Porter is hyper-focused on fixing this offseason.

“I feel like some of the penalties last year were just based on what was going on around the league,” Porter explained. “Once you make a name for yourself, they’re gonna get you on ticky-tack calls. I really try not to let that affect my game. So, I don’t try to stress on it too much. I work on it here and there, but to me it was just nothing to heavily work on.”

The flags are partially the result of a difference in officiating standard between college football and the NFL that Porter will have to continue to adjust to, but that isn’t the whole of the issue. Most of the time, defensive backs get flagged for what they did with their hands, but the core problem lies with their feet and body positioning. A player in good position doesn’t need to grab, push or pull a receiver. So that’s where defensive backs coach Grady Brown has been focusing with Porter this offseason.

“He just stays on me every day and we try to find something new every day to work on,” Porter said. “We don’t just work on stuff I’m good at, we work on stuff I need to improve on. He’s really good at showing me what I need to improve on and we go out and try to execute it.”

The good news for Porter is that for defensive backs anyway, a reputation for excess handsiness doesn’t seem to carry over from one season to the next. The most-flagged DBs in 2022 were Amani Oruwariye, Paulson Adebo, Roger McCreary, Desmond King and Jonathan Jones. He’ll have to hope that improvements to his game will have officials forgetting about his frequently flagged 2023 season this fall.

RELATED: Joey Porter Jr. Reveals His Top 5 Cornerbacks in NFL