With the beginning of phase one of the offseason program this past week, players are getting a chance to really meet their teammates in a work environment for the first time. But they’re also getting to know their coaches as well.
That includes former Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Joey Porter, who is now a defensive assistant coach for the linebackers. There aren’t too many former teammates left, so they’re getting the full Joey Porter experience right away.
Yesterday, two second-year linebackers, Jarvis Jones and Vince Williams, gave their impressions of Coach Porter when they spoke to the team’s website for a live segment, during which they previewed the team’s defensive needs.
Jones described Porter as “amazing”, perhaps a bit hyperbolically, when asked what it was like to have him as a coach.
One of the best players to play this game. The demeanor that he had to play this game is unbelievable. I’m glad to have Joey here, I know he’s glad to be back with us, so we’re gonna take full advantage of it and learn everything we can from him.
Although Williams plays inside rather than outside, as Porter did, he said that he too is trying to pick Porter’s brain to learn from what the veteran knows about the game. Williams is a cerebral player, so it’s not surprising to see him try to draw from every resource possible.
I’m thinking about renting one of the rooms in his house, and just kind of living in there. I want to be Baby Joey Porter, in a sense. Not so much how he played—he played outside, obviously—but, just to try to pick up his demeanor. He’s a great player, so I just want to learn as much as I can.
One thing that Porter can certainly convey to his new pupils, as he once did for his teammates, is to play with a nasty demeanor. The Steelers have the right tradition, from Greg Lloyd, to Porter, to James Harrison, but perhaps Porter can help instill that playing intensity and aggression in the current generation in Jones and Jason Worilds.
Porter took division rivalries seriously, for starters, which perhaps hasn’t been as big of a focus for the Steelers over the past few years. He once got ejected before a game against the Cleveland Browns for getting into a confrontation with a reserve player (which, incidentally, helped showcase Harrison, which helped nudge Porter out of Pittsburgh).
The rivalry with the Baltimore Ravens was probably at its most heated, if not its most contested, with Porter in the mix. He brought the fire and the passion, and he passed that on to his teammates as he whipped them into a frenzy. He was a true leader in that sense, influencing his peers to play with an edge.
The Steelers get two shots at the Ravens in primetime this season, including the second game on the schedule. We should see fairly early if Porter’s energy and demeanor has truly rubbed off on his pupils.