ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Two weeks after a stellar Broncos debut that earned him AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors, cornerback Tracy Porter got a taste of the other side of the do-or-die nature of the cornerback position.
Sunday against Houston, Porter was in coverage on a pair of long touchdown passes by the Houston Texans. He quickly accepted responsibility for those plays, and more importantly, forgot about them.
"Even though it's your goal week in and week out to make big plays, those guys get paid too," Porter said. "They made plays, they capitalized on my mistakes and that's just what happened. Put the game behind you. Win or lose, you make corrections and move on to the next week."
Making matters worse, he also aggravated a knee bruise that forced him to the sidelines for the rest of the game. Porter was adamant on Wednesday that those two things were unrelated.
"At the time, I dinged it pretty good," Porter said of his knee. "It was hurting and the coaches were more worried about my health than anything. They didn't want me to further injure it any more. They made a good call in taking me out of the game. It had nothing to do with the plays that happened, because they know what type of player I am, and I know what type of player I am."
But Porter has since progressed in his recovery from the injury, as he participated fully in the Broncos' practices on Wednesday and Thursday.
"I practiced, so (my knee) is a pretty high percentage," Porter said Wednesday. "I can't really put a certain percentage on it, but if I'm good enough to practice and I can practice tomorrow, then we'll just steadily build from there."
As he recovers physically, Porter is also hoping to help the secondary as a whole bounce back from allowing Texans quarterback Matt Schaub to throw for 290 yards and four touchdowns. One of the main reasons for Houston's success was miscommunication in the secondary, a problem the Broncos have quickly addressed and moved toward solving.
"Houston did a great job of capitalizing on our miscommunication," Porter said. "We have done a great job of emphasizing communication on the back end so things like that don't happen. Because we never want anybody to run through our defense like they did. The communication has gotten better since the Houston game. Though it's only been a couple of days, we feel like it's gotten to a point to where we feel good about it and we just want to build from that."
With the speed-oriented offense of Oakland coming to town this week, Denver expects to see more plenty more shots down the field. Porter said the defense embraces the upcoming challenge.
"They have speedy receivers that can get open," Porter said. "So it's going to be another task for us. We knew this first quarter of the season we were going to have a pretty tough schedule. They have guys that can run. We have guys in the back end that can run as well. It's a matter of who plays the best technique and who capitalizes on who's mistakes when the time comes."
Sunday's visit from the Raiders is a crucial game for the 1-2 Broncos. Porter pointed out that there's a big difference between 1-3 and 2-2. It's also the team's division opener and a matchup with one of Denver's biggest rivals. And the game will take on added importance for Porter because of his relationship with Oakland Head Coach Dennis Allen. Allen was the defensive backs coach for the Saints from 2008-10, where he taught Porter valuable lessons that have stuck with the corner ever since.
"He stayed on me more than anything about finishing plays," Porter said. "Early on in my career, he said I didn't finish plays well. He stayed on me about that and I appreciate him for that also. He taught me how to play within myself, don't try to do anything out of the realm. I'm a good player, he knows what type of talent I have. He believed in me and that gave me more confidence week in and week out for them to put me out there. Me playing the way he taught me, he was just a great DB coach for me."