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Steelers CB Joey Porter Jr. Bulks Up During Offseason

Pittsburgh Steelers second-year cornerback Joey Porter Jr. has added five pounds of muscle to aid his game amid strength concerns.

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Pittsburgh Steelers CB Joey Porter Jr.
Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joey Porter Jr. at the team's OTAs, May 21, 2024 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — May and June remain infamous in football circles, particularly in sports media. Why? While the preseason hype is a normal emotion, everyone is in the best shape of their life this time of year. For example, Najee Harris has slimmed down, and sure, he has, but what’s the purpose, how much, and what is the context behind it? There are easy guesses, like adding more explosiveness, but until Harris speaks, those remain questions. Second-year cornerback Joey Porter Jr. bulked up five pounds over the offseason.

The best shape of his life? Maybe, maybe not. But Porter added those five pounds for a practical purpose. He harped on his ability to tackle in run support and what he thinks is a weaker punch in press coverage as reasons he needed to bulk up from 200 pounds to 205 pounds.

“I feel good,” Porter said. “Really, I’m feeling confident right now. It was about five pounds, maybe. I’m really trying to play at 205 last year. I fluctuate from 198 to 200. It’s kinda weird because I’m big for my position, so being 200 was not a big deal for me. But at 205 I can be physical in the run game and on the line.”

Joey Porter Jr. has already started experimenting with it, roughing up wide receiver Deuce Watts at the line of scrimmage. While that is an example without pads, Porter wants to showcase that with pads on and hopes that by the time training camp rolls around, his physicality and new-look punch in the press are ready to go.

Steelers CB Joey Porter Jr. Super Bowl Odds

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joey Porter Jr. in a game against the Baltimore Ravens on Jan. 6, 2024. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

“I can feel it coming a little bit,” Porter said. “You know, I really want this to be ready by the time training camp rolls around. That’s what I’m shooting for right now.”

Porter talked last season about his tackling issues and thought they came from dropping his head when trying to tackle a ball carrier in space. In addition, some of that may have come from strength problems since Porter went into the NFL a bit skinny. Now, his frame is more filled out, and he hopes to step up against top NFL wide receivers again to shut them down.

“Covering No. 1 wide receivers forces you to grow up fast,” Porter said. “I feel like I took on that challenge and showed I could hang with them. That’s something hopefully I can continue to do this year.”

Porter remained at the top of cornerbacks stats, such as yards per coverage snap and completion percentage allowed. In man coverage, he proved even more dominant than in zone coverage. His lone touchdown allowed came against the Jacksonville Jaguars when he busted coverage that allowed Travis Etienne to land a house call on a go route.

Heading into Year 2, Porter has a new running mate on his other side in Donte Jackson, and that profile is better than the room a season ago. And while Porter is on the precipice of earning the ‘star’ label, the offseason work he put into himself to shore up his weaknesses is the most significant indication that Porter could take that Year 2 leap.