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Steelers rookie CB Joey Porter Jr. slows DeAndre Hopkins after requesting to shadow star WR

Pittsburgh Steelers rookie cornerback Joey Porter Jr. requested Nuk. He got him.

Following the Steelers' 20-16 victory over the Tennessee Titans, Porter told reporters he asked head coach Mike Tomlin to shadow veteran star receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

 "On Tuesday, I went to Coach T (Tomlin) and told him, 'I want 10,' " Porter Jr. said, via NFL Network Insider Mike Garafolo. "That's what I was looking for. I don't really hide from nothing, so I was like, 'That's the matchup I want, that's the matchup I need.' (Coach) didn't really say yes on Tuesday. He was like, 'We going to think about it' because they was like, 'That's kind of crazy.' But throughout the week, they was like, 'Alright, we going to let you get 10 on some reps in,' and then throughout the game, it was like 'you just go where 10 is at.' "

Porter lined up on Hopkins on 72.2 percent of the wideout's routes (26 of 36), per Next Gen Stats, and allowed one reception for 17 yards on five targets. Hopkins finished with four catches for 60 yards, zero in the second half, as Porter's physical coverage helped silence rookie quarterback Will Levis' top target.

The rookie corner used his physicality to bump Hopkins at the line. Porter pressed Hopkins on 20 of his 26 routes, per NGS. The rookie did draw a defensive hold that extended the Titans' final drive, but on the whole, Porter's bully style slowed Hopkins, allowing 1.6 yards per target separation.

 "D-Hop is one of the tops in this league, he's been doing it a long time, so definitely a lot of respect for him, but I'm the young guy so I've got to show him what I've got," Porter said. "He kept asking for calls. I was like, 'You're doing the pushing. How can you ask for calls when you're doing the pushing?' "

The Steelers don't generally travel their corners, particularly one as young as Porter, but the more he's been given a chance this season, the more he's shown he can handle the work. In the past three weeks, Porter's seen his play-time skyrocket after not garnering more than 25 snaps in a game through the first five weeks. He's been stellar in his first two career starts. Porter entered TNF forcing a tight window throw on 63.6% of targets in man coverage in 2023 (tops in the NFL, min. 10 targets), per NGS. He continued to prove a sticky cover against Hopkins in Week 9.

"I just got to keep working, keep grinding," Porter said. "Some rookies always hit their high ceiling, and then it's the rookie slump, so I just got to keep working. Like I said before, just chop wood, carry water and just look forward to the next week."

The rookie's to-do list: Chop wood. Carry water. Contain wideouts.

Check. Check. And check.

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