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Curtis Riley a surprise entrant in Giants’ safety competition

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Cornerback-turned-safety had an impressive spring

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans
Curtis Riley
Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants collected a large assortment of unheralded defensive backs this offseason, hoping to uncover a gem or two. Some of those players have already been discarded, but former Tennessee Titans cornerback Curtis Riley remains.

If Riley’s work in the spring, where he earned some first-team reps at free safety, was an indication the 25-year-old third-year player might be one of the gems the Giants hoped to find. Let’s take a closer look as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp.

The basics

Height: 6-feet
Weight: 190
Position: Defensive back
Experience: 3

2017 season in review

Riley played in seven games with no starts for the Titans, bouncing back and forth from practice squad to 53-man roster. He had 11 tackles, an interception and two passes defensed. Pro Football Focus gave him a 46.6 grade, in the “poor” category. In two seasons with Tennessee (he was on the Titans’ IR list in 2015), he appeared in 11 games.

2018 outlook

When the Giants signed him in March, he looked like just another under-the-radar guy who would be added to the competition for reserve cornerback spots. The Giants, though, moved him to safety. They already had Darian Thompson and Andrew Adams as potential partners for Landon Collins, but an excellent spring has put Riley into that mix.

“Curtis is a guy that, we all know he’s played corner, so he’s got really great feet and hips and range. And the thing I’m probably most proud of him about is how he’s picked it up playing safety because that’s a change, when you go from playing outside, to go inside,” defensive coordinator James Bettcher said during mandatory mini-camp. “And some of the checks and the communication and one minute you’re in the post, the next minute you’re down, or you’re playing in the half field, or you’re blitzing off the edge and some of the different duties that our safeties have to handle here. He’s done a really nice job with that.”

At the very least, in a league where only 46 players dress on game days and positional versatility can help make those decisions, Riley has improved his versatility and his opportunity to make the roster. At most, he could surprisingly emerge as the starter next to Collins when the regular season begins.