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Mike Tomlin Compares Joey Porter Jr.’s Mentality to Ike Taylor



Steelers CB Joey Porter Jr.
Steelers CB Joey Porter Jr. against the Ravens Oct. 8, 2023 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Joey Porter Jr. goes out on the football field every Sunday with the No. 24 on his jersey. He wears that to honor his ‘Uncle Ike’, referring to former Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor. Like Taylor, Porter is on an upward trajectory, playing at a high level. That latest event was Porter shutting down DeAndre Hopkins last Thursday against the Titans. It’s not an easy thing to do.

The team does not know if he will shadow players moving forward, mainly because shadowing Hopkins allowed Porter to focus on his strengths rather than his weaknesses, such as tackling; his performance is incredibly encouraging. More than that, Porter asked Tomlin to get Hopkins and make those plays. Tomlin will not shy away from allowing cornerbacks with that mindset to do just that.

In his chat with Bob Labriola of, Tomlin talked about the specific mentality that players have to boast to embrace that role. And for him, Taylor used to do that all the time. But Porter has a similar mentality that allows him to step up and ask for those challenging assignments.

Steelers CB Ike Taylor

Former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor talks to Joey Porter Jr. at training camp, Aug. 1, 2023. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

“Joey asked for it, and for me, particularly on an assignment like that, that’s where it starts,” Tomlin said. “If I’m asking them it’s not as authentic, you know what I mean? Ike Taylor used to ask for such matchups routinely. I like doing business with guys who have that mentality, and so it didn’t take me long to ponder it. I just wanted to make sure that it was beneficial for him and for us in doing so, and it was.”

Porter’s Mentality Will Only Help Him

Joey Porter Jr. not only asked for it, he stepped up and shut Hopkins down. According to Pro Football Focus, Porter was targeted five times and allowed just one catch for 17 yards and a 41.3 passer rating against. Hopkins finished with four catches for 60 yards, well below his average on Thursday night.

There are still concerns in Porter’s game—namely, his tackling and grabbiness. Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin acknowledged that there are still weaknesses, but he is a rookie just starting to pick the wheels up as a player. The rookie has growing confidence to do just about anything they ask of him. But there is no doubt his impressive play continues to grow faith in him.

That type of mentality that is similar to Taylor’s is not surprising. He has not shied away from anything in this process, and if he has the right mentality to shadow top receivers, Tomlin will let him do it. But he acknowledges it takes a special player to have the mentality, but Porter might just have it.
“It’s a mind-set more than a skill-set, to be quite honest with you,” Tomlin said. “It’s a down-in-and-down-out competition. It gets really personal, and it doesn’t take long once the receiver realizes that you’re waiting for him to break the huddle and you’re going in a certain direction. It gets personal really quickly. And so it’s similar in basketball when somebody’s trying to minimize a high scorer. It gets personal really quickly. More than a physical skill-set, it better be a demeanor, it better be a mind-set, because it’s going to be an all day job.”
Porter continues to impress and has another week’s test against Christian Watson and his athleticism. Pittsburgh has worked into unique sub-package looks with Porter on the outside and Minkah Fitzpatrick out. But it all hinges upon Porter’s ability to be trusted and lock down on the outside.