Contemplating the possibilities

Cornerback Desmond King II may or may not start at nickel cornerback on Sunday against Baltimore but is likely to see his first snaps on defense with the Steelers either way.

The depth chart for the Ravens game listed Chandon Sullivan or King as the starter in the slot.

Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin found the designation appropriate.

"I think he's getting more comfortable in our system and I think that line in the depth chart represents the fact he's had some growth here with us and learning our system and he's probably ready to go," Austin said.

King played a combined 13 snaps on special teams in his Steelers' debut on Sept. 24 at Las Vegas and last Sunday in Houston (three kickoff returns for a combined 69 yards).

He was a veteran of 95 career regular-season games and 53 career regular-season starts with the Chargers, Titans and Texans prior to signing with the Steelers on Aug. 31.

King has nine career interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns.

"What his role will be on Sunday, could be small, could be large, all depends on what happens in the game, how the game unfolds," Austin said.

Rookie cornerback Joey Porter Jr., the 32nd-overall pick in last April's draft, is "trending" toward getting playing time in something other than the six-defensive backs "Dime" defense.

But that's not the plan for the Baltimore game.

"No, not yet," Austin said. "He's working hard. I like the way he's working, he's making strides. Is he ready for full time right now? I'm not sure I can say I really feel great about that. But yes, he is working in the right direction, he's trending in the right direction and at some point we expect him to be out there.

"I think it's always different to come into the league and as you're starting to learn it and then all of a sudden just throw you in and thrust you into the starting lineup, that's a different animal. I want to be pretty sure he's ready to handle all that because I don't want to throw him in there and him not have the success that we all envision for him."

Second-round defensive tackle Keeanu Benton could be in line to play more against the Ravens.

Defensive tackle DeMarvin Leal left last Sunday's loss in Houston due to a concussion.

Benton has averaged 26.8 defensive snaps per game through his first four games but is perceived by Austin to be capable of handling a heavier work load.  

"I'll say this first and foremost, he absolutely has the gas tank to do it," Austin said. "That was one of the more impressive things watching him on college tape as a 300-plus pounder where he would play over 80 percent of the snaps, and he played hard and he ran hard the entire time. So I don't worry about his conditioning.

"He's obviously grown as a young player and he's gotten more snaps and he's gotten better as he's gotten more snaps so I anticipate his roll growing, as well."

Veteran nose tackle Breiden Fehoko hasn't made an appearance for the Steelers yet but he established a reputation as a run-stuffing presence in 19 career games with the Chargers.

The Ravens will arrive at Acrisure Stadium ranked No. 5 in the NFL in rushing (151.3 yards per game) and have scored eight rushing touchdowns (four by quarterback Lamar Jackson).

"You draw up Fehokos for teams like this," Austin said.