Rookie safety Shamarko Thomas was used more on defense against Baltimore than he had been all season.

That was partly a result of how the Ravens attacked the Steelers and partly a result of how Thomas attacked the Ravens.

“Baltimore went all three-wide receivers (sets) pretty much,” defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said. “They probably didn’t have 10 snaps of regular or extra-tight end (sets) and Shamarko’s in that (six-defensive backs) package.

“He’ll play every snap if that’s what we get.”

Thomas will do so because he’s earning the playing time in something other than a special-teams setting.

He had six tackles on defense and another on special teams against Baltimore, and in a couple of those instances Thomas made sure the Ravens knew he was there.

“I think he’s growing,” LeBeau said. “He’s a physical guy, that’s what we liked about him, and he’s getting more comfortable in the defense and you’re seeing some of that
physicality show up.

“He made several really strong plays.”

Thomas’ development is a part of the Steelers’ next wave of young players beginning to emerge this season, which should help the cause the rest of the way in 2013 and
pay dividends down the road no matter how this season turns out.

Also included on that list at present are linebacker Jarvis Jones, guard David DeCastro, running back Le’Veon Bell, offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum, defensive lineman Cam Heyward and linebacker Vince Williams.

More (wide receiver Markus Wheaton? Nose tackle Steve McLendon?) may yet emerge.

“I’d say he’s on schedule,” LeBeau said of Thomas. “He’s a young player but I don’t worry about him when he’s in there. I know he’s going to go wrong some plays because he is new but he’s gonna be a good football player.”