A promised shake-up in the Ravens secondary didn't necessarily pan out at the beginning of the game Sunday, but began when starting cornerback Jimmy Smith suffered a thigh injury and was replaced by Jumal Rolle, who was only added from the practice squad on Tuesday.
"Jumal played well," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "I'm a secondary guy, I'm nitpicking a lot of his stuff, but he played well. Very solid out there, moved well, had his eyes in the right spot, and we were pleased."
Rolle was signed to the Ravens' practice squad on Nov. 20, two days after the Houston Texans waived him. Rolle played parts of two seasons with the Texans, including as the team's third cornerback for stretches, and needed just three-plus weeks on the Ravens practice squad before earning a shot.
He entered Sunday's game not expecting much — mainly a special teams role — but took over as the third cornerback ahead of rookie cornerback Tray Walker. Shareece Wright became an every-down defender in Smith's right cornerback spot, with Lardarius Webb playing some on the outside and moving into the slot when the Ravens went into their nickel package.
"I didn't know I was going to be playing [defense], but during the week, I was just always preparing myself just in case anything happened," Rolle said Sunday. "I got my action on [defense] and I was prepared. I tip my hat to the coaches for having everybody prepared in the room in case anything goes down."
While disappointed with the loss, Rolle allowed that he played "pretty good" in his team debut.
Whether he continues to have a role in the secondary on a regular basis depends on Smith's health. Harbaugh said he believes Smith has a chance to return to face an explosive Steelers offense Sunday.
"Jimmy has a good chance," Harbaugh said. "I just talked to him and I think he has a good chance to play. We'll see how he does this week."