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Will Steelers Have Joey Porter Jr. Shadow Top WRs in 2024?

Will the Pittsburgh Steelers once again have Joey Porter Jr. shadow opponents top wide receivers in 2024 or does Donte Jackson change things?

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Pittsburgh Steelers CB Joey Porter Jr. Stefon Diggs Buffalo Bills
Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joey Porter Jr. tackles Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs during a playoff game at Highmark Stadium on Jan. 15, 2024. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — As he progressed through his rookie season in 2023, Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joey Porter Jr. did something that very few Steelers cornerbacks have done at any point, let alone in their rookie seasons, by shadowing the top receivers of opposing teams, regardless of where they lined up on the field.

The Steelers implemented the strategy last year with Porter playing opposite Patrick Peterson and Levi Wallace. They’ve upgraded their second cornerback position this year, trading for Donte Jackson from the Carolina Panthers as a solid veteran No. 2, with high-level speed, even though he’s not as big or physical as Porter is. 
That gives the Steelers a nice one-two punch of one long, strong cornerback and a quicker, smaller one. That seems like it might lend itself to Porter continuing to follow the biggest and best receiver on the field. Porter said last week that’s his intention, but that the team hasn’t made a firm decision to this point.

RELATED: Donte Jackson Ready to Create Duo with Joey Porter Jr.

“I’m still trying to follow,” he said. “We’re going to talk about it. I think that’s the case. I really don’t know, but that’s my intention.”

Part of the problem might be a lack of opportunities for the strategy to make a big difference. The Steelers’ three divisional opponents, which represent 35% of their schedule, do not have an obvious distinction between their first and second receivers.

Cincinnati Bengals
Tee Higgins 6-foot-4, 219 pounds
Ja’Marr Chase 6-foot, 201 pounds
Jermaine Burton 6-foot, 194 pounds

Cleveland Browns
Amari Cooper 6-foot-1, 211 pounds
Jerry Jeudy 6-foot-1, 195 pounds
Elijah Moore 5-fo0t-9, 180 pounds

Baltimore Ravens
Nelson Agholor 6-foot, 200 pounds
Rashod Bateman 6-foot, 197 pounds
Zay Flowers 5-foot-9, 182 pounds

There are several other Steelers opponents that fit into the same category, where there isn’t an obvious matchup to exploit by having Porter follow one receiver or another.

Denver Broncos
Courtland Sutton 6-foot-3, 216 pounds
Josh Reynolds 6-foot-3, 192 pounds
Marvin Mims 5-foot-11, 182 pounds

Los Angeles Chargers
Quentin Johnston 6-foot-3, 215 pounds
DJ Chark 6-foot-3, 200 pounds
Ladd McConkey 6-foot, 185 pounds

New York Jets
Mike Williams 6-foot-4, 218 pounds
Garrett Wilson 6-foot, 183 pounds
Malachi Corley 5-foot-11, 215 pounds

New York Giants
Malik Nabers 6-foot, 200 pounds
Darius Slayton 6-foot-1, 198 pounds
Wan’Dale Robinson 5-foot-8, 185 pounds

Kansas City Chiefs
Rashee Rice 6-foot-1, 204 pounds
Xavier Worthy, 5-foot-11, 165 pounds
Hollywood Brown, 5-foot-9, 180 pounds

Philadelphia Eagles
A.J. Brown 6-foot, 226 pounds
DeVonta Smith 6-foot, 170 pounds
Parris Campbell 6-foot, 208 pounds

Steelers CB Joey Porter Jr.

Steelers CB Joey Porter Jr. against the Cleveland Browns, Nov. 19, 2023 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

So when might it work? There are basically two scenarios that seem to make a lot of sense as far as when the Steelers might want to get Porter matched up with one receiver. The first is the big guys. Porter is 6-foot-2, 194 pounds. Jackson is 5-foot-10, 178 pounds. Teams with one receiver that is a lot bigger than the other practically beg the Steelers to match size with size by moving Porter around.

Atlanta Falcons
Drake London 6-foot-4, 213 pounds
Darnell Mooney 5-foot-11, 173 pounds
Rondale Moore 5-foot-7, 180 pounds

Indianapolis Colts
Michael Pittman Jr. 6-foot-4, 223 pounds
Adonai Mitchell 6-foot-1, 205 pounds
Josh Downs 5-foot-10, 171 pounds

The other area is a little bit more gray. There are four teams the Steelers play where their top receiver is clearly a good bit better than their No. 2, even if there isn’t an obvious size disparity. This could be a situation where the Steelers might want Porter against the other team’s best, or they could just roll with left/right for simplicity’s sake.

Dallas Cowboys
CeeDee Lamb 6-foot-2, 200 pounds
Jalen Tolbert, 6-foot-1, 195 pounds
Brandin Cooks 5-foot-10, 189 pounds

Las Vegas Raiders
Davante Adams, 6-foot-1, 215 pounds
Michael Gallup, 6-foot-1, 205 pounds
Jakobi Meyers, 6-foot-2, 200 pounds

Washington Commanders
Terry McLaurin 6-foot, 210 pounds
Jahan Dotson 5-foot-11, 182 pounds
Luke McCaffrey 6-foot-2, 198 pounds

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Jesus Christani
Jesus Christani
June 10, 2024 3:54 pm

Agreed… Just as I always say with a good OC, just because you want to be a good running team doesn’t make you a run-first team… Know your personnel and your opponents’ personnel… If you’re going up against the worse passing defense in the NFL, the game plan should be to, heavily, exploit that with your own passing game… Said that to say this: There are games when Jr. should be on The Island… There are games when the game plan should call for no Island… I know one thing, if Joey comes into the office and says he wants… Read more »

Jesus Christani
Jesus Christani
June 10, 2024 4:05 pm

Tell you when I accepted Joey as a TRUE shutdown corner:

Look at the pic up top versus Buffalo… The Steelers had just come back and were only seven points down with about eight minutes to go in the game… They kick off… The very first offensive play the Bills ran was not successful… Yet it was… Joey got injured… My head dropped… That was the moment I realized what Joey meant to the defense (especially, without 90)…

Edward Carmichael
Edward Carmichael
June 10, 2024 6:15 pm

as a true Steelers fan, CB Joey Porter Jr. most likely will cover the number one wide receivers but with CB Cory Trice Jr., CB/S Ryan Watts, and CB Darius Rush the Steelers new secondary will be hard for all wide receivers and tight ends to catch the ball in 2024 so CB Joey Porter Jr. won’t be alone