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Time for 'Dime' coincides with rookie's debut

After further review …

BIG-PICTURE PERSPECTIVE: On a night that saw the Steelers' defense collect three interceptions and four turnovers, one of the most significant plays in veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson's estimation was a 4-yard gain.

It wasn't the 4 yards surrendered on third-and-29 from the Bills' 43-yard line with 5:21 left in the first quarter that got Peterson "very excited" on Saturday night at Acrisure Stadium, it was the deployment of the defense.

Specifically, it was the "Dime" alignment the Steelers relied upon at the time, one that included rookie Joey Porter Jr. in an outside cornerback position opposite Levi Wallace and Peterson playing an inside role in the six-defensive backs sub-package.

"I was super excited for (Porter) when we went 'Dime' and he got his first rep in there with me moving on the inside," Peterson insisted.

It was Porter's first defensive snap of the preseason.

And it was a first for Peterson, as well, even though he's entering his 13th NFL campaign.

"That's my first time really playing 'Dime' in a game setting," Peterson noted.

It's what the Steelers have envisioned all along.

But to allow Peterson to be a "football player" as opposed to merely being a "cornerback," as he's phrased it, and play multiple, ball-hawking roles, as Peterson and secondary coach Grady Brown have said head coach Mike Tomlin intends, someone has to play the outside cornerback position Peterson vacates in such situations.

Porter is the presumptive key to unlocking the versatility the Steelers seek.

The first "Dime" in what became a 27-15 victory over Buffalo included Porter and Wallace at outside cornerback, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Damontae Kazee as deep safeties and Keanu Neal and Peterson in the middle of the defense, along with inside linebacker Kwon Alexander.

"As much success as Joey has, I believe it's gonna make our defense that much better," Peterson maintained. "It gives guys, not only the opportunity to continue to free roam, but just putting the best guys on the field to help us win ballgames.

"Like Coach said, you want to be able to put the best cover guys on the field in those situations."

ONE TO GROW ON: Porter saw extensive action as an every-down cornerback after initially taking the field in the "Dime."

"I thought he did solid, just looking at him from the naked eye," Peterson assessed. "I thought he was where he was supposed to be when he was in there."

That was particularly the case on what became an interception of quarterback Matt Barkley late in the second quarter.

"Coach put him in a great call, he executed the technique flawlessly and the quarterback threw the ball right to him," Peterson continued. "All he had to do was finish the play.

"Like I told him today, you don't have to do anything outside your body or do anything spectacular. Just be where you're supposed to be and the ball will find you. And I'll be doggone, the ball found him in the second quarter. Great play for him, a great play boost for him and I can't wait to see what he's going to do after this."

YELLOW FLAGS IN THE RED ZONE: It took the Steelers seven plays from the Buffalo 7-yard line or closer to finally push the ball into the end zone late in the first half, but the series deserved an asterisk.

Twice in the span of four snaps, tight end Darnell Washington (6-foot-7, 264 pounds) drew penalties for defensive pass interference in the end zone.

Quarterback Mitch Trubisky suspected both plays, a corner route and then a fade, would have resulted in touchdowns had the Buffalo defense not run afoul of the law.

"He got grabbed on both," Trubisky insisted. "I like to think if he's 1-on-1, you give him a chance, he's going to come down with it. They had to interfere.

"We're going to continue to give him opportunities down in the red zone. He's a big target. He knows how to get open. It's going to be tough for defenses to cover because he's a big target and he knows how to catch and make those plays."

Take a look at the best photos from the Week 2 preseason game vs. the Buffalo Bills

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