UNITY TWP, Pa — Every rookie experiences their welcome to the NFL moment. For Steelers cornerback Joey Porter Jr., despite his strong performances, got that experience on Friday. It came from another young player, though, in George Pickens, who gave the rookie a taste of what the NFL is like against physical receivers.
George Pickens vs Joey Porter Jr#steelers
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On the play, Pickens lowered his hands directly into the chest of Porter Jr. In any normal NFL game, that would be offensive pass interference. He pushes him down as Porter Jr. is trying to go into his backpedal. In the process, Porter Jr. would hit the ddeck, and later in practice, he would come after Pickens, noting that he had something to show Pickens later.
That chippiness seemed to carry into the air as practice continued but nothing further broke out in that lane. George Pickens is known as a physical guy and this sets the tone for what the team can expect to acclimate its rookies. And likely, Mike Tomlin is not going to discourage some lessons like this from his rookies. Pickens takes liberties to go out there a bit and Tomlin loves that it is teaching a young cornerback to play perked up.
Pickens will set the tone with a defensive back at the line of scrimmage. Porter Jr. has not faced many players quite like Pickens who are willing to go to unique lengths to make things uncomfortable for opposing defensive backs. Now, with some first-team reps starting to show up for him, Porter Jr. needs to be ready at all times to match that energy.
Saturday should be a fun watch from that perspective. Porter Jr. is likely to continue to get some reps against guys like Pickens and Diontae Johnson, but his tensions with Pickens will only add to the flames that he has to fuel during his first few days at an NFL training camp.