UNITY TWP., Pa — Joey Porter Jr. stepped on the practice field for the first time on Thursday. But the surroundings for familiar for someone who was a ballboy when he was a little kid and watched his dad practice on Chuck Noll Field. The lights, or in this case the sun, were never too bright for the kid who grew up around the Steelers organization.
“I know this place like the back of my hand,” Porter Jr. said. “It’s familiar to me from when I was little and a ballboy here. It brings back a lot of good memories.”
Coming in on his first practice day, Porter Jr. did just about everything you want out of a rookie cornerback. He went toe-to-toe with Calvin Austin III a few times. On one play, Porter used his length to stun Austin off the line then ran step for step with him down the sideline to force an incompletion. That was an impressive display of his strengths and proved he has a long speed. Porter battled guys like Austin and Miles Boykin. He didn’t lose the entire day from my measurement. Certainly, on his targets, Porter was airtight and played at a high level.
Coming back on Friday, he had to follow that up. Porter Jr. did that for the most part. While his confrontation with George Pickens made the headlines, it was Joey Porter Jr. chugging along and making more plays. He had two targets today. One on a dig route to Cody White that he sniffed out right away and punched out of White’s hands. Another intended deep down the sideline where he blanketed the receiver with no chance of catching the ball.
You can only read so much into two practices without pads. But Porter Jr. is proving himself to be formidable. Now, whenever he continues to see Pickens, Diontae Johnson, and others, that will truly showcase what he can do. But he’s starting off on the exact right foot.