Joey Porter was often the hero for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and a villain to opponents, in his career as an outside linebacker. His attitude as the intimidator and a team leader put him in the forefront of the team in the early 2000's and his play as a premier pass rusher led them to a Super Bowl XL victory.
As an assistant coach for the team now, Porter has worked with the new crop of outside linebackers and has high expectations for the two first round draft picks, Jarvis Jones and Bud Dupree, as Pittsburgh's defense transitions into a new youth movement.
"If [Jarvis Jones] stays healthy, I still see him being a guy who can give you double-digit sacks," Porter said to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I'm expecting double-digit sacks out of [Bud Dupree], too."
Bud Dupree had a more than solid first year in the NFL in 2015, recording four sacks and becoming a reliable player to defend against the run. Porter believes he could have had more, but Dupree still was on the learning curve as a rookie. The normal expectation for rookies on the defense for the Pittsburgh Steelers is for them to struggle; even veterans who come to the team take time to learn the system and become consistently effective. Troy Polamalu and Lawrence Timmons as rookies, and James Farrior and Ryan Clark as veterans are all examples of that.
Following that expectation, Porter pulled Dupree on multiple occasions in favor of James Harrison and Arthur Moats, veteran linebackers whose experience gained them more snaps throughout the season. Porter says that will not be the case in 2016.
"Last year, a lot of times I pulled [Dupree] out of the game, a learning experience. I can't really justify myself doing that now. If those guys are out there doing it and they know the defense, there's no reason to pull them."
As far as for the fourth year linebacker Jarvis Jones, Porter knows that Jones is aware of his unmet expectations on a franchise known for legendary linebackers and believes Jones sees that as motivation to make his mark.
Porter knows the uncertainty young players might have in their futures and how that might stress the minds of both Jones and Dupree as they work to become a productive pass rushing tandem.
"I'm waiting for those two to have their best year ever. I told my man [Jones] the other day, ‘I'm not going to say I told you so when it happens, I'll just give you the look.'"
Porter was an emotional leader for the team when he played and looks to be a motivational coach these days. His presence is always felt as he works to improve the outside linebackers and involves himself in player celebrations. Porter's motivational tactics can come with a different swagger than from an older, more traditional positions coach. He is still fresh from being an NFL player and even intimidates opponents with his very presence, as witnessed when the Cincinnati Bengals were penalized for hitting referees as he checked on the health of Antonio Brown.
He may very well have a different impact on the players he works with because of his identity. His expectations for these two young players come from a coach that ten years ago was coming off a Super Bowl championship and kissing head coach Bill Cowher after returning an interception for a touchdown during the season opener. Jones and Dupree know who both Porter and veteran James Harrison are to the franchise and what the franchise expects of them.
Maybe the confidence of Harrison and Porter being in their face will be enough to inspire Jones and Dupree to fill the huge shoes that sit before them.