For the average NFL rookie, their first time practicing with their new team can be a culture shock. New environment, new locker room, new uniform. A lot of change from top-to-bottom.
However, for Pittsburgh Steelers 2nd Round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft Joey Porter Jr., his first practice was him coming back home. He walked onto the same practice field his dad Joey Porter Sr. walked onto as a player on his way to winning a Super Bowl in 2005.
The moment for the rookie cornerback out of Penn State was surreal to the point where Porter called it a “bucket list” moment.
“It was something crazy,” Porter said of his first practice. “Something I checked off my bucket list now that I am an actual Steeler. It was good.
“I feel at home already. As a young kid I used to come through these doors and work out, and now I am a grown man doing the same thing, so it feels good.”
For Porter this isn’t just about being a professional football player, it is so much more now that he is donning the same colors his father wore during his career.
“I soaked it all in,” said Porter. “It took me like three minutes to get outside because I was just standing at my locker. I did that whole little scene and prayed. I looked out here through the whole field and was like, dang I used to be out here as a middle schooler, as a person in high school and now I am really out here.”
With the sentimental aspect of Porter’s first practices out of the way, he was asked if he feels he can make an immediate impact on the team’s defense. Something the rookie is confident he can do.
“I feel like I can have a big impact, but I am really just trying to learn from the old guys and come in and just try and get their respect and show them what I can do on and off the field,” said Porter.
What does Porter need to do now that he has the draft, and all the stress associated with it, behind him? Pretty simple, actually. Learn the playbook.
“The playbook,” said Porter. “Just trying to really understand the playbook and all the checks that come with it.”
Some rookies come into their new home with a sense of entitlement, but Porter wouldn’t fall into that category. Instead, he is focused on the simplicities of the job, and willingness to learn.
“Just come in with your head high and want to learn,” said Porter. “That is what we are all doing together. Just trying to learn as one and work together as one. We are all trying to get the feel for each other.”
What is next for Porter and the Steelers’ rookies? The players will enter Phase 3 of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) next week which will be capped off with mandatory minicamp in the beginning of June. It will be a great opportunity for Porter to learn, but also to show what he is capable of as the team will be permitted to do more football-like drills.
The hope is Porter proves to be more than just a good story, but also a phenomenal player.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the 2023 NFL offseason.