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Tomlin: Joey Porter Jr. Will Remain in Starting Role



Steelers Cornerback Joey Porter Jr.

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Levi Wallace may return from the foot injury that kept him out of the lineup on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars this week, but he will not be returning to his old starting spot, as Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin confirmed on Monday that rookie Joey Porter Jr. will remain in the team’s starting lineup even after Wallace returns.

Porter, the team’s second-round pick out of Penn State, made his first career start and acquitted himself fairly well. He had five tackles and helped limit Jaguars star receiver Calvin Ridley to six catches on 10 targets. According to Pro Football Focus, Porter was targeted four times, allowing two catches for 20 yards. His passer rating when targeted this season is now 9.8.

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Wallace will have a chance to return from injury this week. He was hurt during the team’s Week 7 win over the Los Angeles Rams and missed Sunday’s loss to the Jaguars. Porter replaced him in the starting lineup, with James Pierre filling in as the Dime cornerback and Darius Rush getting a helmet and working on special teams.

Wallace could return to a backup role, or he could allow the team to use Patrick Peterson in a more flexible role. Peterson has worked both in the slot and free safety in small segments of the season.

Porter and Wallace as starting outside cornerbacks could allow more of that — especially with the expected absence of free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, who has already been ruled out of Thursday’s game against the Tennessee Titans.

Fitzpatrick has been playing both free safety and slot corner, and Peterson may be the player most able to replace Fitzpatrick. The Steelers don’t have a lot of time to make big-picture changes, though, with just two practices scheduled before their Week 9 Thursday Night Football date with the Tennessee Titans.