The Steelers usually have one or two surprises a year on the roster. For 2023, that guy has not become too noticeable just yet, but Friday could have offered a glimpse that went under the radar of who it could be. Defensive back Elijah Riley has looked the part so far in training camp, but he brought the same energy and attitude to the first preseason game the Steelers played against the Buccaneers as well.
Looking for a run-down slot cornerback who could carry on the tradition of Mike Hilton and Arthur Maulet, Riley proved that he could do that well on Friday. His one notable slot cornerback blitz ended him making a great tackle on the backside pursuit of a run play. In practice, he has made a number of plays that stick out in a similar way.
— Tommy Jaggi (@TommyJaggi) August 12, 2023
If you want to be the Steelers’ run-down slot cornerback, you have to have that timing down, and it seems that Riley does. Really, Riley brings a level of discipline to the table because he has experienced a level of adversity while at Army, and he thinks he can make this push based on his past experiences.
But his punt coverage on special teams is where Riley really made some headway. If he is to make the team, special teams will be a massive part of it. He is on all the teams as of now and has filled in a lot of responsibilities that Marcus Allen carried with him a year ago.
That could carry Riley to the roster along with his aptitude as a run-down slot cornerback. He has two more preseason games and some practices to continue to prove that his skill set fits what the Steelers are looking for, but the first preseason game showed exactly the niche he can hold on the roster.