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2023 NFL Draft

Cory Trice Ready to Make an Impact after Knee Injury Wrecked Rookie Year

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cory Trice is back in action after a knee injury and surgery wrecked his rookie year.

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Steelers CB Cory Trice
Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cory Trice Jr. during OTAs on May 31, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — It’s hard to remember, but at this time last year, it looked like Cory Trice might be the Pittsburgh Steelers rookie cornerback that was best poised to make a successful first-year leap to the NFL, and not Joey Porter Jr.

Porter turned into a starter and one of the better young cornerbacks in the NFL, shadowing the likes of DeAndre Hopkins and DK Metcalf.

Trice had his rookie season end before it began, tearing his ACL on the first padded practice of training camp. It’s been a long 10 months, but Trice is back on the football, taking part as a full participant in the team’s OTAs this week at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. He’s still wearing a brace on his right knee, but after spending most of his last year on crutches, you won’t hear Trice complaining.

“It felt good to be back out there,” he said. “It felt like the first day of school.”

The lengthy timeline of recovery from knee surgery can be frustrating for players, but Trice has dealt with injuries and surgeries before. Part of the reason that he fell to the Steelers in the seventh round of the 2023 NFL Draft was a significant injury history from his time at Purdue, including a knee injury that cost him his entire 2021 season. That experience meant that he knew what to expect during his rehab process.

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“It’s just like a time thing,” he said. “As soon as I knew what happened, I went right into surgery. Now, I’m just grinding and trying to get back right. … I knew what to expect going into it. I knew each month, what to expect in month three, month four. So it was a kind of a good thing.”

Trice said that he expects to be fully cleared by the time training camp starts in late July, and that he still has some work to do to regain — and hopefully exceed — his conditioning from last year.

“Definitely more work to do,” he said. “I want to come back better. So definitely way more work to do, but I’m happy I’m able to go out there and participate.”

Pittsburgh Steelers CB Cory Trice

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cory Trice on crutches at training camp on Aug. 5, 2023. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Porter is now locked into a starting role, and Donte Jackson opposite him, but it looks like the Steelers are showing some faith in Trice and fellow young backups Darius Rush and Ryan Watts. Trice is confident that 2024 will be his year to show what he can do.

“Seeing [Porter] go out there and do it just gave me more confidence going into this year.”