Pittsburgh Steelers Rookie Cornerback Shines in Matchup Against DeAndre Hopkins
In a stunning display of confidence and skill, Pittsburgh Steelers rookie cornerback Joey Porter Jr. successfully requested to shadow veteran star receiver DeAndre Hopkins during the team’s recent 20-16 victory over the Tennessee Titans.
Porter approached head coach Mike Tomlin earlier in the week, expressing his desire to face Hopkins head-on. “On Tuesday, I went to Coach T (Tomlin) and told him, ‘I want 10,'” Porter Jr. revealed. “That’s what I was looking for. I don’t really hide from anything, so I was like, ‘That’s the matchup I want, that’s the matchup I need.’ Coach didn’t immediately say yes, but as the week progressed, they decided to give me the opportunity to go up against him.”
Porter’s request proved to be a game-changer as he lined up against Hopkins on an impressive 72.2 percent of the wideout’s routes, according to Next Gen Stats. Despite the challenge, Porter allowed only one reception for 17 yards on five targets, effectively silencing rookie quarterback Will Levis’ top target.
The rookie corner utilized his physicality to disrupt Hopkins at the line, pressing him on 20 of his 26 routes. Although Porter did draw a defensive hold that extended the Titans’ final drive, his aggressive style ultimately slowed down Hopkins, resulting in a mere 1.6 yards per target separation.
“D-Hop is one of the top players in this league, and I have a lot of respect for him,” Porter said. “But as a young guy, I had to show him what I’m capable of. He kept asking for calls, but I reminded him that he was the one initiating contact.”
It is uncommon for the Steelers to assign their corners to shadow specific receivers, especially one as young as Porter. However, his exceptional performance in recent weeks has proven that he can handle the challenge. After receiving limited playing time in the first five weeks of the season, Porter’s opportunities have significantly increased, culminating in two stellar career starts.
Entering the game against the Titans, Porter boasted an impressive record of forcing tight window throws on 63.6% of targets in man coverage, the highest in the NFL with a minimum of 10 targets, according to Next Gen Stats. His exceptional coverage against Hopkins further solidified his reputation as a formidable defender.
“I just have to keep working and grinding,” Porter emphasized. “Some rookies hit their peak and then experience a slump, but I’m determined to stay focused. As I always say, I’ll continue to chop wood, carry water, and look forward to the next challenge.”
Porter’s ability to contain top wideouts has undoubtedly impressed both his teammates and coaching staff. With each passing game, he continues to prove himself as a rising star in the Steelers’ defense.