LAS VEGAS — Pittsburgh Steelers fans have been waiting to see what new cornerback and kickoff returner Desmond King can do. They’ll get what they’ve been waiting for on Sunday night.
After being a healthy scratch in each of the team’s first two games of the 2023 season, King is dressed for the team’s Week 3 game against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday Night Football.
The Steelers signed King on Aug. 30, shortly after he was released by the Houston Texans. King, 28, played over 900 snaps for the Houston Texans in each of the last two seasons, and did it relatively well, especially in 2022, when he had an 89.2 passer rating when targeted per Pro Football Focus.
He played most of his time in the slot, where he’s also a relatively solid run defender and at 5-foot-10, 200 pounds, is a somewhat thicker body than the Steelers have in Patrick Peterson and Chandon Sullivan.
A fifth-round pick of the Los Angeles Chargers in 2017, King was a contributor right away as a rookie and has played at least 15 games in each of his five NFL seasons. King became a part-time starter in his second season and continued that role until he was traded to the Tennessee Titans mid-season in 2020.
A free agent in 2021, he signed a one-year deal with Houston, which made him the Texans’ starting slot cornerback. Before last season, he signed a two-year contract extension and played well, setting a career high in total snaps played, adding 103 snaps of special teams to his 918 of defense. He finished fourth on the Houston defense with 89 tackles and had two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
In this training camp, with a changeover in coaching staff in Houston, he lost his slot cornerback job to free agent Tavierre Thomas.
The Steelers have been playing Chandon Sullivan in the slot through two games. That seems likely to continue, though King could work in a rotation. King is expected to return kickoffs, where both starter Anthony McFarland Jr. and backup Gunner Olszewski are injured.