Saturday afternoon Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cower was all smiles, eagerly planning the teams' season opener against the Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 7.
Less than 24-hours later that mood had taken a dramatic turn as Joey Porter, Steelers All-Pro Linebacker, was shot and seriously wounded outside a Denver area sports bar.
Porter, who was in Denver watching his alma mater Colorado State take on rival Colorado, was struck by a bullet in what officials are calling a gang related shooting. The bullet hit Porter in the left buttox and lodged in his right thigh.
While it is not known if Porter knew his assailants, indications are that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, merely an innocent bystander.
"Losing a guy like Joey, that's a huge blow to our defense, but I think the defense is going to rally around this," wide receiver Hines Ward said. "You can't replace a Joey Porter."
Porter, who made the Pro Bowl and was an All-Pro for the first time last season, was released Monday from a local Denver hospital and flew back to Pittsburgh to be examined by the Steelers' doctors.
Preliminary reports indicate that the injury may sideline Porter anywhere from two to six weeks.
"It was a tragic incident," Ward said. "We're handling it as it comes and hopefully get a better chance of understanding it when Joey gets back."
Porter will be replaced by former Colorado State teammate Clark Haggans at outside linebacker, while James Farrior, a starting inside linebacker, will replace Porter in the Steelers six-backs dime defense.
Former Colorado State Star shot outside Denver bar
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