Previously, we broke down the New York Giants safety position battle between Andrew Adams and Darian ThompsonÂ – while both are very much in play to earn the starting free safety job, there’s one surprise player that could swoop in and steal the job.
Curtis Riley, former Tennessee Titan, is the man behind the curtain. The fourth-year safety has only played in seven games in the NFL, making his way from the practice squad to the active roster. In 2017, he recorded 11 tackles, an interception and two passes defended. In 2015, Riley spent the entire season on injured reserve, making his the following year is de-facto rookie season.
Can Riley steal the starting safety job for the Giants?
When Riley was snatched off the streets in March, it was unknown whether he would become a legitimate contender for the free safety job. He was a cornerback when he first arrived but was moved to safety soon after. Maybe, it was exactly what he needed to find the potential that was hiding in the darkness of his abilities.
â€œCurtis is a guy that, we all know heâ€™s played corner, so heâ€™s got really great feet and hips and range. And the thing Iâ€™m probably most proud of him about is how heâ€™s picked it up playing safety because thatâ€™s a change, when you go from playing outside, to go inside,â€ defensive coordinator James Bettcher said during mandatory mini-camp. â€œAnd some of the checks and the communication and one minute youâ€™re in the post, the next minute youâ€™re down, or youâ€™re playing in the half field, or youâ€™re blitzing off the edge and some of the different duties that our safeties have to handle here. Heâ€™s done a really nice job with that.â€
Riley’s speed and footwork will pay dividends at the safety position, and figuring his positioning and coverage schemes will ultimately be the most daunting challenge of the transition. At the very least, Riley can provide support as a reserve safety/corner in the season ahead.