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Elijah Riley could steal the starting nickel cornerback spot

With great performances early in camp, the starting nickel cornerback spot appears to be Elijah Riley’s to lose.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Training camp is a great time of year. Teams get ready for the long season ahead, and unproven players who find themselves on the brink of being cut push themselves to make the final 53-man roster.

We are seeing a great example of the latter emerge in Latrobe in the early days of training camp as cornerback Elijah Riley is making a case for himself to be the team’s starter in the slot.

For those who may not know a lot about the fourth-year man from Army, he was signed by Philadelphia in 2020 as an undrafted free agent and appeared in five games with the Eagles that season, and one in 2021 before ending up with the Jets before the season’s end. He appeared in four games for the Steelers in 2022, and now finds himself in the midst of potentially earning a starting role.

After a productive first day of camp that included an interception off Mason Rudolph, Riley took all of the first-team reps as the slot cornerback. Throughout the day, he broke up a pass intended for George Pickens during the seven-shots drill, and had a pressure on Kenny Pickett that resulted in an incompletion.

Riley’s competition for the role is pretty thin. Chandon Sullivan is in his first year with the Steelers after a less-than-stellar season, coverage wise, for the Vikings. Duke Dawson is the other man in contention for the job, but he hasn’t appeared in a regular season game since 2020. If Riley’s impact in camp carries over into the preseason, it appears that the job is his to lose.