PITTSBURGH — Steelers safety Elijah Riley hopes he can play on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, but he is questionable. Riley suffered a high ankle sprain against the Browns on November 19th, but returned to practice this week to open his 21-day window. He feels solid after those practices, and if he can play, it would be a much-needed boost.
“Yeah, I’m feeling good, I’m ready to go,” Riley said. “Those four weeks off gave me the opportunity to just heal. I got the bumps and bruises right and I have some fresh legs. I’m feeling good….it was good to get back moving again. I stayed in shape, for the most part. It was getting the football movements back, breaking, cutting, and it was a nice adjustment.”
Riley plays safety, slot cornerback and special teams for the Steelers, and he was into the mix on defense thanks to that team already dealing with injuries to starting safeties Minkah Fitzpatrick and Neal, as mentioned above. But even with his return, the team is still injured at that position. Now, with Trenton Thompson and Fitzpatrick out, the team is down four safeties. Riley believes that he could play in the nickel and see that role grow.
“I’ve been playing all over,” Riley said. “They’ve given me nickel, safety work, and in dime. I’m pretty interchangeable, so wherever I’m at, I want to make it happen.”
With his return, Riley could see significant snaps. Patrick Peterson, Eric Rowe, and Miles Killebrew seem primed to pitch into that effort, too.
A West Point alum, Riley spent time with the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Jets in 2020 and 2021 before joining the Steelers in 2022. He has played 26 career games, 13 in Pittsburgh. Riley has 56 career tackles, five tackles for loss, two quarterback hits, two sacks and one pass defended.
Riley had previously filled in for Fitzpatrick when he left the Steelers’ Week 2 game against the Browns with an injury. He had one tackle, one tackle for loss, one sack and one quarterback hit in that contest.