PITTSBURGH — The Steelers could see a change in their cornerback rotation soon, but not as soon as Week 3. Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin acknowledged that, at this point, Joey Porter Jr. is still working towards getting significantly more snaps. Still, after an impressive showing in Week 2, that could happen sooner than you think. However, Porter must continue to stack those weeks to prove he is ready for those snaps. He will continue to play in dime and their regular nickel package.
“That’s kind of where we are right now,” Austin said. “We’ll continue to see if he can continue to do things well. There’s a possibility of expanding his role, but like we said, that’s kind of all the same things we’ve talked about all year. As he gets better and gets more snaps, if he earns it, then we’ll give him more reps.”
Joey Porter Jr. has played just 25 snaps in two games as that third cornerback. The Steelers have embraced their big nickel package with three safeties on the field instead, opting to push Porter off the field more often than not in those subpackage situations. But with some struggles at the position this past season, That fourth down play that Porter executed is one that the Steelers loved to see, and they will not coach him any differently on how to play that go route.
“He’s fine. Got the stop and got the win. It was outstanding,” Austin said. “I didn’t see anything. I know everybody talked about it. Like those are two guys, they’re both jostling. The rules in the NFL are, obviously if one guy’s just running, the other guy is just draped all over him, obviously that’s interference. But if they’re both hand fighting for the ball a lot of times that is not called, and we know it. That’s just kind of how — that’s why you’ll see guys will be complaining about OPI, and they don’t get it because they’re all hand fighting. It’s just part of the game. We just kind of let that go. The refs make their calls, and we coach the game. We tell our guys how to play it and let the refs call it how they see it.”
The struggles of Levi Wallace and Patrick Peterson give the Steelers plenty of reason to look to Porter to help that room. The ups and downs of a rookie will come naturally with the game. But the Steelers are not getting enough quality play from the veterans to justify not playing him more. That’s what this comes down to at this point. Maybe it won’t be in Las Vegas, but it probably should be if the first two weeks indicate a coming pattern.