PITTSBURGH — The Steelers will return cornerback Levi Wallace against the Titans. It will be his return after he missed one game against the Jaguars. Wallace suffered the injury in the team’s win against the Los Angeles Rams and only logged limited practices during the short week. Regardless, rookie cornerback Joey Porter Jr. has taken over the starting role across from Patrick Peterson.
Even with Wallace still playing, rookie Darius Rush will receive a helmet yet again. He did play any snaps on special teams or defense in his first game, but the team may play him against the Titans. The Steelers did not call up a player from the practice squad this week.
Wallace and Patrick Peterson have been the top outside cornerbacks for the first six games, though Porter had been eating into their playing time, particularly while Wallace was banged up last week. Porter played 78% of the defensive snaps against the Rams, the first time he played more than half a game. He played 40% of the team’s snaps in Week 5. After starting against the Jaguars, Mike Tomlin confirmed he earned that job full-time.
Porter’s size, length, and physicality offer Pittsburgh more flexibility on the back end, allowing them to be more aggressive against more talented offensive attacks. His passer rating when targeted this season is now 9.8.
“I think it’s kind of what you guys kind of asked me a lot of times about him,” Austin said. “I’ll just say a few times, but maybe every week. But the point is, and what I kept telling you, is he’s growing, he’s getting better, and when it’s time, you’ll know it. I think it was his time. I think each week we’ve put him in, he’s played a larger role. He’s played better. He’s doing the things that we want him to do, and we feel comfortable now that he’s able to handle everything. So that’s why he’s the guy moving forward.”
Porter now has DeAndre Hopkins on his menu. But that is not new for Porter, who has faced players like Ridley, Davante Adams, and Odell Beckham.