Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Cards think Joey Porter still has star power
By Tim Graham
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Good luck, Ken Whisenhunt.
That has to be sentiment coming from the Miami Dolphins' front office.
The Arizona Cardinals coach signed outside linebacker Joey Porter last week with the belief he still can make a positive contribution.
Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland insisted in between the first and second time they released Porter that the club's decision was based solely on production. Of course, Porter's rantings against head coach Tony Sparano and young pass-rusher Cameron Wake only bolstered their conviction.
Whisenhunt wasn't concerned about diminishing skills or the potential for distraction. The Cardinals signed him to a three-year, $17.5 million contract.
"I think it was critical when he came in for the visit with us to sit down and talk with him, watch tape with him, go through where he was to have a better understanding of what point in his career he felt like he was and what he felt he could still accomplish," Whisenhunt said Wednesday morning at an NFC coaches breakfast.
Whisenhunt isn't wearing blinders. He was on Bill Cowher's staff when Porter helped the Pittsburgh Steelers win Super Bowl XL.
He knows Porter's act and is prepared for the inevitable outbursts that inevitably will create sexy headlines in Phoenix and the upcoming opponent's city.
"For us, there's a lot of things I know about Joey and how he is in the locker room, what type of leader he is," Whisenhunt said. "You know with Joey that there's going to be the occasional bulletin-board material for the other team.
"But there's a lot of passion that comes with Joey. There's a balance that you have with him, but I've never had a problem with Joey. I've never been on a team where anybody has had issues with Joey."
Sparano and Wake wish they could say the same.
Porter turned 33 on Monday and is coming off a wacky season. He led the AFC with 17.5 sacks in 2008 and followed that up with nine more, a respectable number. But half of those came in two games. He clashed with Sparano, was benched for breaking team rules and endured hamstring problems.
"I still see him having gas left in his tank," Whisenhunt said. "He can make some plays, can be a good leader for us. It helps bring a mentality to our defense that hopefully gets us to a level where we can be a little more consistent.
"We've shown flashes of being pretty good. We’ve shown flashes of being pretty bad. Hopefully, if you bring in players with the credibility of Joey, who has been to Pro Bowls, that helps."