3 underdogs who look like early favorites for roster spots at Steelers training camp

  • Two unexpected defensive backs earn first-team reps
  • A young linebacker sees work over the veterans

Steelers, Steelers training camp
Steelers, Steelers training camp / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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DB Elijah Riley

Every team needs a versatile chess piece in the secondary who can wear multiple hats, and the Steelers are still looking for that dime defender who can do it all. The Steelers briefly experimented with moving Minkah Fitzpatrick around in the secondary before realizing that his niche is as a Cover 2 free safety where he can see the field in front of him.

Over the past two years, Pittsburgh has tried out multiple players in this role, including cornerback/safety hybrid, Tre Norwood. However, the results have been less than desirable. Now, after hanging around on practice squads since entering the league in 2020, Elijah Riley could be given that chance.

Riley worked with the first-team defense to begin training camp as he played both safety and nickel cornerback. Very little is known about Riley outside of what we have seen from him in practices and the preseason. Riley was a former safety for Army who earned 7 interceptions in four years at college but didn't receive an NFL Combine invite, and his Pro Day numbers are hard to come by.

Regardless of what he did in the past and how long it took to get to this spot, Riley legitimately looks like a player that has a chance to make the roster and carve out some sort of sub-package role in the secondary. If he continues to impress the coaching staff, a spot on the Steelers 53-man roster could be his.