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Jordon Riley turns heads on the Giants defensive line

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Jordon Riley called the play back with a big smile.

That’s when he realized he belonged in his place, a fourth-and-one stoppage during which Riley pushed the offensive line back and tackled Spencer Brown behind the line of scrimmage last Friday during the Giants preseason victory over the Panthers.

“I know our team needed it and for me personally, a few games before that my technique wasn’t as good,” Riley told the Post. “To have that fourth stop, to hear the reaction from MetLife and to receive the love from my teammates, it was a special moment for me.”

The game also represented what the Giants have often experienced in recent weeks: Riley having an impact from the start.

The huge defensive tackle didn’t come into training camp with much hype.

He was a seventh-round pick this year and attended four colleges in six years, most recently at Oregon.

Jordon Riley tackles and stops running back Spencer Brown on a fourth-and-1 play in the Giants’ preseason win over the Panthers.
Corey Sipkin for the New York Post

But he’s made too many strong plays to ignore, and now it looks like he could be in the rotation from the start of the real games.

Riley received more reps because veterans A’Shawn Robinson and Rakeem Nunez-Roches ran out of time, and he took advantage of it.

“He has gifts that we cannot offer him as a coach. You know, he’s 6-5 years old, he weighs 325 pounds. He’s a big, strong man,” defensive line coach Andre Patterson said in the spring. “The gifts he has, a coach can’t give to you.”

Riley wasn’t upset about being drafted low, with just 16 picks before the three-day event ended. Some players might use this as motivation.

He was thrilled to be selected, especially by a team like the Giants, which had veterans like Robinson, Nunez-Roches and Leonard Williams from whom he could learn.

“I decided to be grateful that the Giants took their time to get their information on me and draft me,” he said. “The only thing I can do for them is improve every day.”

In time, Riley might turn out to be a diamond in the rough.

Last October, he wasn’t on anyone’s radar, assistant general manager Brandon Brown said.


Gordon Riley (#95) celebrates with Leonard Williams after stopping Spencer Brown on a fourth and one game in the Giants' preseason win over the Panthers.
Jordon Riley (#95) celebrates with Leonard Williams after stopping Spencer Brown on a fourth and first play in the Giants’ preseason win over the Panthers.
Corey Sipkin for the New York Post

Dennis Hickey, assistant director of player personnel for the Giants, saw him at Oregon and thought Riley fit the Giants defense under coordinator Wink Martindale as a physical lineman who could help control the line of scrimmage.

Brown and director of player personnel Tim McConnell watched the Ducks play in California and came away even more intrigued by Riley, who stood out “like a sore thumb” due to his height and athleticism, standing out. recalls Brown.

The Giants asked defensive line coaches Patterson and Bryan Cox to train him before the draft and saw enough potential to give it a shot.

“There aren’t many men in the world who are his size,” Brown said. “So it’s up to us to bridge that gap, can he turn to coaching? Development, getting the right weight, all those things that every time we put a benchmark on him, he hits it.


Jordon Riley takes on Panthers running back Spencer Brown on a fourth-and-a-game in the Giants' preseason win.
Jordon Riley takes on Panthers running back Spencer Brown on a fourth-and-a-game in the Giants’ preseason win.
Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

Brown added, “The production that you see in pre-season, we hope it can be a catalyst for things to come in the future. But it was really cool to see.

Preparations for the draft and the first six rounds were trying for Riley.

He wasn’t sure he would be chosen, if changing schools so many times would be blamed on him.

He started his career in North Carolina, then went to Garden City (Kan.) Community College, before returning to the Division I ranks at Nebraska.

He left the Big Ten school after two years and followed his coaching job, Tony Tuioti, to Oregon.

Looking back, however, Riley said he wouldn’t change anything.

“I just know I had to keep going,” Riley said. “Everyone’s story is different. I had to travel several places to get here. Everything went well. »

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