Bucs Veteran’s Future in Jeopardy After Injury

Curtis Riley

Getty Curtis Riley may have an uphill climb to play with the Buccaneers this fall after a "slight" ACL tear.

One minute, new Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Curtis Riley picked off Tom Brady at minicamp. The next, the veteran defensive back went to the ground with a leg injury.

Riley got carted off the field one play after intercepting Brady during drills. Riley signed with the Bucs in May after trying out at the rookie minicamp. He spent the 2020 season with the Minnesota Vikings, where he played in six games.

“He’s got a slight Achilles tear when he jumped up and got that interception,” Arians told the media on June 10 per Sports Illustrated’s All Bucs. “So, I’ll see how bad it is and if it needs to be operated or not.”

His “undisclosed lower-body injury” occurred when trying to stop a  pass from Brady to tight end Rob Gronkowski in the end zone according to Pewter Report. “It appeared Riley got tangled up with linebacker Kevin Minter and Gronkowski as they fell to the ground,” Pewter Report’s Mark Cook wrote. Bucs head coach Bruce Arians had no update on Riley afterward per Cook.

Riley had just intercepted Brady in the end zone two plays earlier per Pewter Report. Riley made the play during red zone 7-on-7 drills according to ESPN’s Jenna Laine.

“That wasn’t his best red zone period,” Arians said of Brady per Laine. “He was pretty solid. But our defense is doing some things that I don’t think anyone else in the league is doing right now, so it’s gonna be good training for us.”

Riley’s injury puts him behind the eightball for making the team as the Bucs loaded up on defensive backs during the offseason. The Bucs currently have eight safeties, including Riley, in particular. Tampa carried four on the 53-man roster last season.

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Return Home for Riley

A decade ago Riley was a high school football star for University High School in his hometown of Orlando.

His college career took him from North Carolina to California, where he found a home at Fresno State. He played for six NFL teams after entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2015 before returning to Florida as a Buc.

Riley first played college football at Division II Mars Hill College in North Carolina where he posted 52 tackles and two interceptions in 2010. He left college the following season to assist his family according to Fresno State athletics.

After a year away, Riley went to Division III Fullerton College in 2012 before transferring to Fresno State in 2013. He posted 74 tackles, 15 pass deflections, two forced fumbles, and an interception in two seasons with the Bulldogs.

Riley’s Journeyman NFL Career

Tennessee gave him his first NFL shot in 2015, and he played his first game in 2016. He played in four games that season while splitting time between the roster and practice squad.

Riley played in seven games for the Titans in 2017 and made his first career interception, and he tallied 12 tackles. He then signed with the New York Giants in 2018 and had a career year as a 16-game starter with 75 tackles and four interceptions, including a pick six.

It didn’t go as well for Riley in Oakland the following season where he played in all 16 games but only started three. He had 34 tackles and a forced fumble for the Raiders.

Riley bounced around in 2020 with the Pittsburgh Steelers signing him initially and then putting him on the practice squad right before the season. The Arizona Cardinals then signed him in September 2020 but released him in October before the Vikings picked him up. Riley played four games for the Cardinals and two for the Vikings in 2020.

The Bucs signed him this offseason for more secondary depth and competition for defensive back spots in camp.

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