Patrick Peterson raises the bar for Joey Porter Jr. expectations


Rookie cornerback Joey Porter Jr. seemed destined to be drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now he has a veteran defensive back in his corner.

It was hardly a cause for celebration. The Pittsburgh Steelers finished with a winning record in 2022 but missed the playoffs for the third time in five seasons. A 9-8 mark was only good enough for a third-place finish in the AFC North as the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens advanced to the postseason.

It could have been much worse considering Mike Tomlin’s club got off to an embarrassing 2-6 start. The team rebounded to win seven of its final nine games and the hope is that the momentum of the season’s second half carries over into 2023.

It’s been a different kind of offseason for the franchise, led by new general manager Omar Khan. Pittsburgh brought in plenty of free agents and made their share of moves during the three-day draft process.

Patrick Peterson backs Steelers draft pick Joey Porter Jr.

One of the veterans they signed very early in the process was veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson, who spent the past two seasons with the Minnesota Vikings after 10 years with the Arizona Cardinals. He started all 16 games for the 2022 NFC North champions, finishing with 66 tackles and 15 passes defensed. He and safety Harrison Smith tied for the team lead with five interceptions.

In April, Khan used the first pick in the second round to grab Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. Yes, he’s the son of former Steelers’ pass-rusher Joey Porter. In 10 games with the Nittany Lions this past season, he finished 27 tackles but zero interceptions. There was a fumble recovery and 11 passes defensed.

When an eight-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro has something to say, it bears listening to (thanks to Amanda Godsey of the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat).

“He has all the intangible to be better than me,” Peterson said.

High praise indeed.

During the Steelers’ 7-2 finish this past season, the club limited eight of their nine opponents to 17 or fewer points. Still, Pittsburgh defenders gave up 29 touchdown passes in 17 contests and were a so-so 19th in the league in passing yards per game allowed. No matter how you break it down, it’s an area that needs improvement.


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