By Bryan Dietzler
If you have been watching Chicago Bears football over the past month, you will have seen that the secondary is coming up big for the Bears in critical situations. There is an interesting mix of players in that group and they are starting to become one of the better units in the NFL. There is one player in particular that has stood out very well over the past few weeks and he deserves a lot of credit for how the Bears defense, particularly the secondary, has played. That player is Tracy Porter.
Porter has a long history in the NFL and has been a pretty solid performer at the professional level since entering the league. He has been a journeyman of sorts playing for several different teams and it was thought his career might be over before the Bears signed him and brought him to Chicago. He has had somewhat of a career resurgence since coming to the Bears and has been playing very well.
The following is a look at the career of Porter both in college and in the NFL. There is a look at where he came from, where he has been and where he might end up when the season is over.
Porter was born August 11th 1986 and attended Port Allen High School in Louisiana. While attending high school and playing football, Porter played several positions including wide receiver, running back, cornerback and quarterback. Some of the honors he earned included being named to All-District honors in his first year of playing football (as a junior) and then earned second team honors as a senior. He was very productive in high school both in tackles and in interceptions and even returned punts and kickoffs during his prep time. Porter was also a solid basketball player and was pretty good in track and field.
He was recruited by Indiana University where he played his college ball. He earned All-Big Ten Conference honors in his senior season and finished second in school history with 16 total interceptions and first in school history in interception return yards with 413. Porter also has the distinction of becoming the first player in Indiana University history to bring back an interception, punt and fumble for a touchdown in his career.
Porter wasn’t talked about too much as a high draft pick coming out of college until he got to the scouting combine. While out the scouting combine he impressed scouts with a 4.37 40 yard dash time making him one of the faster players at the event. This improved his overall rating with scouts and earned him a higher draft position than perhaps he may have gotten because playing at Indiana University may not be a place where many players get noticed.
The New Orleans Saints drafted Porter in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft. During his first year with the Saints he played in just five games before being placed on injured reserve with a wrist problem. He recorded 25 total tackles, one sack and one interception.
The 2009 season was a little bit better and more interesting for Porter. He had a spectacular interception in their week seven game against the Dolphins that he returned for a touchdown. During their game with the Minnesota Vikings, which incidentally was the NFC Championship game, Porter caused a fumble which was recovered by the Saints. In that same game, with the clock winding down and with the Vikings coming close to being in field goal range (to win the game) Porter intercepted the Vikings quarterback. This allowed the game to go into overtime where the Saints won and went to the Super Bowl.
In that same Super Bowl, Porter became a bit of a hero. As the Indianapolis Colts were driving down the field, in Saints territory, Porter got in between Colt’s quarterback Peyton Manning and wide receiver Reggie Wayne and intercepted Manning’s pass. He then returned the interception 74 yards for a touchdown ending the Colts hope of a comeback and sealing the win for the Saints. Porter was considered a hero by many.
During the 2009 season, Porter played in a total of 12 games and had 57 total tackles to go along with two forced fumbles and four interceptions.
Porter remained with the Saints through the 2012 season. In the 2010 season Porter played in a total of 12 games and had 60 total tackles, one fumble recovered and one interception. During the 2011 season, Porter played in 14 games and had 52 total tackles with two forced fumbles, one fumble recovered and one interception.
The Denver Broncos signed Porter to a one year deal after he spent his first few seasons with the Saints. In his first game as a Bronco Porter intercepted Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to cement the victory for Denver. For his efforts in that game Porter was awarded the AFC Defensive Player of the week honor. He suffered from some health issues that season, however, and played in just six games recording 21 total tackles with no forced or recovered fumbles. He had just the one interception that season.
The Broncos allowed Porter to walk away from the team in the next season and he landed in Oakland on a one-year deal. He managed to play in all 16 games for the first time in his career and had 67 total tackles, no forced fumbles or recovered fumbles and two interceptions one of which he returned for a touchdown. Porter didn’t stay with Oakland long however and was signed by the Redskins to what would be a two-year deal.
While with the Redskins Porter played in just three games before landing on injured reserve for the season. He managed to get five total tackles with no fumbles caused or recovered and no interceptions. Despite having a two year deal, the Redskins released Porter and in June of 2015 he signed with the Chicago Bears.
Porter’s start with the Bears was a little rough as he didn’t play early on due to an injury. When he did finally make it onto the field he shined and supplanted free agent pick up Alan Ball at the position opposite Kyle Fuller. Porter had a little bit of a slow start to the season once he did get in the lineup but has been playing very well ever since and keeps getting better it seems with each game. Two of his highlight games of the year so far were the Bears game against the Chargers on Monday night and the second game against the Packers. Porter played very well in those games.
Look for Porter to have a strong finish to the season as the Bears make an attempt to try to make the playoffs. If he continues playing well and the rest of the defense continues to play well, then the Bears should win a few more games. He has been a big part of the Bear success on defense and has been a big contributor on that unit this season so far and should continue to be huge for the defense the rest of the season.
Porter only signed a one year deal with the Bears so his contact is up at the end of this season. He has shown that he is definitely worth keeping around for another year (as long as he remains he healthy throughout the end of this year) so don’t be surprised if the Bears ink Porter to another deal keeping him here for one to two more seasons and as long as he plays well he should remain a starter in the secondary at the cornerback position.