Steelers DC Teryl Austin on CB Joey Porter Jr: 'It was his time' to start

Better late than never, right? JPJ is (finally) a full-time starter for the Steelers.

Steelers, Joey Porter Jr.
Steelers, Joey Porter Jr. / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

When the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Joey Porter Jr. with the 32nd overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, we knew it was only going to be a matter of time before the rookie was inserted into the starting lineup. Porter wasn't a perfect prospect coming out of Penn State, but his elite intangibles for the position -- combined with the poor outlook at the CB position in Pittsburgh -- made it easy to project him as a starter early in the year.

Unfortunately, Steelers defensive coordinator Teryl Austin didn't see it that way until just recently. Despite the frustrating struggles of veterans Levi Wallace and Patrick Peterson, Porter was used as just a part-time player all the way until Week 8 when he was finally inserted as the starter against the Jaguars. And that is where the rookie will remain.

Early this week, Mike Tomlin revealed that Porter would be starting for the Steelers moving forward. On Tuesday, Teryl Austin spoke to the media where he confirmed that it's now Porter's job at left cornerback, saying that 'it was his time.'

Steelers fans are thrilled that Joey Porter Jr. has finally graduated to a full-time role in Pittsburgh. So far, the results have been outstanding. According to Pro Football Focus, Porter has allowed just 3 receptions on 14 targets in his coverage for a mere 32 yards. This equates to just a 9.8 passer rating surrendered.

Better late than never with the Steelers decision to start Joey Porter Jr.

The decision to have Levi Wallace inactive in Week 8 came as a bit of a surprise. The veteran cornerback was dealing with a minor injury but was able to log limited practices on Thursday and Friday before the games against the Jaguars. After seeing Porter in action for a full game, there was clearly no reason to go back to Wallace.

However, fans will certainly argue -- and justifiably so -- that this move came several weeks too late. Wallace has been embarrassed all year prior to his benching. It was so easy to tell on film that he just didn't have the speed or quickness to stick with starting NFL receivers. Meanwhile, Porter flashed seemingly every time he stepped on the field.

This decision might have come much later than fans would have liked to see, but at least they did make the move in the first half of the season. Now if Mike Tomlin and Pat Meyer would only be willing to bench Dan Moore Jr. for Broderick Jones, then we would be talking.

Porter's emergence as a starter should be a huge addition for the Steelers, as he's clearly already the best cover corner on the team. This draft class is shaping up to be a good one, and Porter can continue to show why he should have been selected in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.