Porter leaning on Allen for career jump start

Porter leaning on Allen for career jump start
April 3, 2013, 3:00 pm
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Dennis, he did a great job in bringing the best out of me. I’ve grown to love the guy.
—Tracy Porter on Dennis Allen

While Tracy Porter is the seventh of eight defensive players to sign with the Raiders as an unrestricted free agent this offseason, the cornerback might be Oakland's most impactful signing.

[RELATED: Oakland adds CB Porter | Raiders offseason scorecard]

At least, he's the most accomplished and figures to be the best cornerback on the roster the moment he walks into that locker room.

"I welcome any challenge," Porter said in a conference call with Bay Area reporters Wednesday afternoon. "If I’m asked to be one of the leaders on the team, I’ll definitely do that. I’m more of a guy that leads by example, rather than going in and being the rah-rah guy and say, 'This is what we need to do, this is what we don’t need to do,' and I don’t do it.

"I’d rather just show guys on the field, off the field, the way it’s supposed to be done, and it will be up to them if they follow that lead, which I’m hoping they would do."

Porter, 26, had a "burn rate" of 65.8 percent last season, giving up 25 completions on 38 targets for 416 yards and four touchdowns in six games, four starts. He also had one interception, a 43-yard pick-6, with 16 passes defensed and 6 tackles.

But an early-season concussion and seizure slowed his roll in Denver. Now?

"I’m more than 100 percent ready," he said. "I’ve been out for the past two or three months, perfectly fine, doing defensive back drills, haven’t had any setbacks. I look at last season as a learning experience as well as just a setback. Any setback, there’s always an opportunity for a comeback. It was a setback last year, now I’ll have a major comeback.

"I mean, the seizure, that was just a one-time deal. They never really found the cause. It may be the altitude. Maybe I wasn’t adjusted to the climate. I don’t know the reason that it happened but it happened. It’s in the past. I’ve been cleared of everything and I’m ready to go."

The Raiders apparently think so, having signed him to a reported one-year deal worth $2.5 million.

And very few people in the NFL know Porter better than Raiders coach Dennis Allen, who was Porter's position coach in New Orleans when the Saints made him a second-round pick out of Indiana in 2008. A year later, Porter had four interceptions and in Super Bowl XLIV, Porter's 74-yard interception return of a Peyton Manning pass for a touchdown sealed the game.

"It was just a natural comfort zone there," Porter, who also visited New Orleans this offseason, said of the role his relationship with Allen played in signing with Oakland.

"Dennis, he did a great job in bringing the best out of me. I’ve grown to love the guy…he was the one who had a hand in getting me drafted. I mean, he wanted me in that room in New Orleans and he wants me in the room in Oakland. I mean, he and I have a long history together and it almost seems like…I'm following him because he went from New Orleans to Denver, I went from New Orleans to Denver. He went from Denver to Oakland, now I’m going from Denver to Oakland. It almost seems like he and I are simultaneously sticking together."

Indeed, especially with the Raiders embarking on a true rebuilding project from the ground up with players general manager Reggie McKenzie has referred to as high-character guys who love to play football.

"I'm a guy that stays out of trouble, doesn’t put himself into difficult situations," Porter said. "I’m a guy who loves the game of football, who wants nothing more than to succeed and wants my team to succeed. And another thing the coaches, and Reggie, they’re doing a good job of bringing guys in and keeping guys that have that same mindset.

"Nobody wants to bring guys in that are troublemakers that are going to be a cancer to the team and break up the team. You don’t want that, because that destroys the camaraderie, it breaks up the locker room. You can't have a bunch of guys that are playing for themselves, no one’s on the same page. So we want guys that want to win, that love the game of football, that just want to take this Raiders team to a new level."

The Raiders have also played host to cornerbacks Terence Newman, who instead re-signed with Cincinnati, and Dallas free agent Mike Jenkins, who is also reportedly weighing options with Jacksonville.

[RELATED: Newman spurs Raiders on Twitter]

Oakland's other cornerbacks currently on the roster are Phillip Adams (53.8 percent burn rate), Coye Francies, Chimdi Chekwa and converted running back Taiwan Jones, with Brandian Ross (50 percent) an exclusive-rights free agent. Cory Nelms and Akwasi Owusu-Ansah are listed as defensive backs.

Of course, Porter sees Allen as the key to coaching up the DBs.

"Corner play is huge, not only for Dennis but for any team to be successful in the NFL," Porter said. "If you don’t have successful guys on an island that can help you get off the field on third down, then it’s going to be hard for your guys to rush the passer and affect the quarterback. I just look for (Allen) to put pressure on the corners to lock those guys down out there on the edges, and he’s always done a good job in developing his corners.

"(When) I came out, yeah, I had talent, I could do certain things, but he taught me things along the way, technique-wise. He taught me things mentally to prepare to go out there on the field and give my all each and every play and that made me a better corner on the field. It provided me with a lot of success. Having that history with him, I was hoping we could just pick back up where we left off up in New Orleans."