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Underrated Steelers DB Cementing Place on 53-Man Roster



Steelers DB Elijah Riley

PITTSBURGH — Elijah Riley did not know what to expect coming into the 2023 season. The Steelers defensive back had played safety and slot cornerback for the team, but entering his second season, Riley had to prove he was capable of more than just being a practice squad guy.

So, far he leads the team in special teams tackles in the preseason, and nabbed an interception against the Bills. But the veteran defensive back has been around the block, and he’s only here to show what he can.

“I just want to be able to show whatever I can do,” Riley said. “You know, wherever the team needs me and whatever they need me to do. I want to be trusted there.”

Riley is going up against Chandon Sullivan and Lavert Hill in the team’s slot cornerback competition. So far, both players are proving they can make some plays. However, Riley’s special teams’ aptitude and his consistent playmaking throughout training camp and now into the preseason gives the Steelers confidence that he could be a guy who does a little bit more than just cover kicks, punts, and protect Pressley Harvin III.

“Every play, I want to make something happen on the field,” Riley said. “I want to be somebody this team can rely upon on any stage, but the big stage. Showing that my playmaking can translate into stadiums, that is showing they can trust me.”

As of now, Riley’s path to the 53-man roster is clear. He is a ballhawk who could be the team’s primary run-down slot cornerback. There were some hiccups in coverage, but when Riley was named a guy to compete for the job, that seemed to be a given. He is not the passing-down slot cornerback and simply does not need to be. Riley is carving out a niche for himself that will make him valuable down the stretch.

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