New York Jets safety Elijah Riley checks out 'fine' after injuring neck

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- New York Jets safety Elijah Riley, who was strapped to an emergency spine board and carted off the field with a neck injury, "checked out fine" and flew home with the team on Sunday night, coach Robert Saleh said.

"Elijah Riley is good. ... He's got motion, he's got all that stuff," Saleh said after the Jets' 31-24 loss to the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium.

One source called it a "sore neck," adding that Riley, 23, feels like he could play next week.

Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa started his postgame news conference by mentioning Riley, saying his "heart goes out" to the Jets safety.

Riley was injured in the third quarter in a collision with teammate Kyle Phillips. On a screen pass to running back Duke Johnson, Riley came flying into the play headfirst. CBS Sports didn't show a replay to viewers, saying it was too graphic. Riley was flat on his back for six minutes before being carted off. He moved his right foot as medical personnel hovered over him. Nearby, players from both teams kneeled as no fewer than eight doctors and trainers tended to Riley.

A member of the Jets' staff held Riley's neck in place as the cart drove slowly off the field. As the cart entered the tunnel by the Jets' locker room, Riley raised his right arm briefly and gave a fist pump.

"It was very scary," linebacker C.J. Mosley said.

The injury appeared to deflate the Jets (3-11), who were leading 17-10 when it happened. The Dolphins scored the next 14 points to take a 24-17 lead before the Jets tied it on an interception return for a touchdown by cornerback Brandin Echols.

Cornerback Bryce Hall acknowledged they "were a little bit down" after the frightening injury.

Riley, a West Point graduate, signed with the Jets on Nov. 9. Previously, he was on the Philadelphia Eagles' practice squad. He began his NFL career in 2020 as an undrafted free agent by the Eagles. The Jets acquired him after losing safety Marcus Maye to a season-ending Achilles tear.

Riley quickly ascended to the starting lineup; Sunday was his fifth start. He has received praise for his acumen and passion for football.