Porter back on the field

PITTSBURGH - Considering he took a bullet to his backside less than two weeks ago, even Joey Porter was surprised that he was able to go out on the Steelers' practice field Wednesday and run sprints and work on his backpedal while his teammates practiced in preparation for Sunday's game at Kansas City.

"For me to be able to sprint and do backpedal and do coverage work and do it pretty easily was encouraging," Porter said Wednesday. "It was only 10 or 11 days to the day and I'm out there running around."

Of course, running around unencumbered and doing so while a 300-pound offensive lineman is trying to block you are two entirely different things. Porter said he will likely err on the side of caution before getting back onto the football field before he's ready.

"I'm trying to work myself through this. But watching those guys out there Sunday inspired me," Porter said of the Steelers' 34-15 season-opening victory over Baltimore at Heinz Field. "I want to get healthy fast, but I don't want to rush something just to get out there. I'm not going to do that because this is a long season and it's barely Week 2. I'm not going to practice this week, but if I'm out there Friday or Saturday (running) and I feel good, there's chance (he'll play against Kansas City)."

As unlikely as that would seem, head coach Bill Cowher isn't ruling anything out at this point. Cowher monitored Porter's progress Wednesday and was also encouraged by his rapid progress, but added, "Strength is an issue and pushing off on the leg is an issue."

Porter had a 9 mm bullet removed from his right thigh last Monday. And only last Wednesday was he released from the hospital. He has been lifting weights to rehabilitate the injury, but isn't back to lifting what he did before the shooting incident.

"I'm not going to come in full tilt," Porter said. "It's like anything. If you hurt your shoulder, you just can't come back in and put 300 pounds on your shoulder right off the bat. You have to ease your way back into it. Even though it's not the same weight it was before I got hurt, I'm still able to do enough. You always have to build; you can't stay the same. If you stay the same, you're not going to get any better."

"I did lose my conditioning. You can't just sit out 12 days without running. All that stuff I put in from camp and before camp, I lost eight pounds and you can't just get that right back. You're not going to be in the condition you were before. That all plays into the rehab. I need to get my wind back. I'm out there, running and just trying to get a little better each day."

Porter said his biggest problem thus far has been his wife Christy, who has wanted him to ease back on his return.

"My wife hears (I'm running), and she says, 'You're not supposed to be out there running'. " Porter said. "But it's not like I'm tolerating pain or anything like that. It's not like I'm pushing things that early. Actually, it's healing that fast. Even though it was a bad wound, it's turning out pretty good."

Not so good, however, that he's ready to forgive and forget his verbal sparring with Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis before and after Sunday's game. In fact, Porter is still steaming over Lewis' portrayal of him as the bad guy in the whole event.

ESPN reported earlier this week that Porter went after Lewis on the Ravens' bus following the game and called the linebacker out for a fight. It was reported that David Modell, a Ravens official and son of the team's owner Art Modell, stepped between the two to break a fight up.

"There are people saying I was knocking on doors telling people to come out. And (David) Modell was breaking us up," Porter said. "Like if we were really going to fight, do you think he was going to break us up?"

According to Porter, he was just walking to his car with his wife after the game when Baltimore cornerback Corey Fuller started yelling over to him. Lewis then got off the bus and also yelled over, but the two were at least 50 feet away from each other.

"They are trying to make me out to be a super-thug bad guy," Porter said. "I'm getting shot one week and the next week I'm trying to fight Ray Lewis. That's OK, he got his story out first."

Stay tuned for the rematch in December.

Dale Lolley
Courtesy of the Washington Observer-Reporter

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