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King happy for chance with Steelers

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 8:56 p.m.
Tribune-Review
Gateway grad Justin King began the 2012 season with the Indianapolis Colts, but he ended it with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review

Gateway graduate Justin King, a five-year NFL veteran, was signed to the Pittsburgh Steelers' 53-man roster a couple of days after the loss to the Dallas Cowboys, and while King was deactivated for the final two games of the season — Cincinnati and Cleveland — King said he was happy to have been given a chance with his hometown team.

“I've been around the league for a while, so I understood during practice week and how we prepare that I would be inactive,” King said.

“But I just wanted to sharpen my skills and help the receivers get better and ready to play on Sunday.”

King began the season in Indianapolis after signing a free-agent contract with the Colts in June. He played for the Colts in a preseason game at Heinz Field.

He received extensive playing time at the start of the season but struggled in the Indianapolis secondary, and a groin injury caused him to miss the Colts' 30-27 victory over Green Bay on Oct. 7.

The Colts released King after week five.

He worked out for Steelers a couple of weeks before he was signed, and the Bears also brought King in for a workout.

Injuries to Pittsburgh's defensive backs, including the season-ending shoulder injury suffered by DeMarcus Van Dyke against Dallas, spurred the Steelers to turn to King to help with depth in the secondary.

In the 10 weeks from his release by the Colts to being signed by the Steelers, King said he simply tried to stay focused and in shape.

King said he grew up following individual stars such as Deion Sanders, but he always followed the Steelers as a team favorite.

To be able to put on the black and gold uniform, he said, has been special.

“It's humbling and an honor to be a part of this organization, and to play for coach (Mike) Tomlin and coach (Dick) LeBeau” King said. “I appreciate the opportunity to still be here.”

King said he hopes to remain with the Steelers.

“We will revisit things and see if they want to keep me a part of the organization,” he said.

King enjoyed strong careers at Gateway and Penn State University.

He was selected in the fifth round (101st overall) of the 2008 NFL draft by the St. Louis Rams.

The potential was there for King to make a quick impact, as he figured into a couple of the Rams' coverage packages in the 2008 preseason.

However, a torn ligament in one of his big toes forced him to miss his entire rookie season.

King returned in 2009 and played in 15 games, starting seven in place of injured starters.

He received starting time in 2010 and 2011, and he also dealt with injury during both seasons.

King's 2011 campaign with the Rams ended prematurely because of a shoulder injury.

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 and at mlove@tribweb.com.

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