Joe Haden still played well, when he played.
But the Browns cornerback knows last year’s suspension changed the perception of him as a player, and he knows he has to work to change it back.
“I feel with what I’ve been through — what I wanted to do last year and I had a setback — this year’s going to be my year,” Haden said, via Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com. I just want to bring the team with me.”
The Browns lost all four games when Haden was missing, allowing 10 touchdown passes in his absence. Coupled with the $1.3 million in salary he lost, and not being eligible for any postseason honors, the hit was significant.
“I’ve been through a lot, been through the struggles,” Haden said. “So, I know how it feels to be at the bottom, and just have people against you and just being hated on. This year, starting off fresh, I’m just trying to show just a new Joe. This is going to be my fourth year. Me and T.J. [Ward] are trying to take over the whole DB room and just the whole defense, with D’Qwell [Jackson], just being a leader by example.”
Haden’s pure coverage ability sets him up well for new coordinator Ray Horton’s defense, which is based on getting pressure up front. That puts a burden on him to held up in the back, and Haden said his new boss thinks big things are in store.
“He [Horton] just wants me to be elite and says there’s no reason I shouldn’t be recognized,” Haden said.
Haden hopes that this year, the recognition will come on the field, and not for the mistakes made off it.