Steelers hopeful Joe Haden can play on Sunday

Getty Images

The Steelers want to play man-to-man coverage against Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. To do it effectively, they need cornerback Joe Haden.

Haden has returned to practice this week after suffering a fractured fibula, participating both Wednesday and Thursday on a limited basis. The Steelers still don’t know whether Haden will be able to play.

Boy, I hope he does,” defensive coordinator Keith Butler said Thursday, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

“How does he feel tomorrow, that is going to be the biggest thing,” Butler said. “Then, we’ll play as we go.”

Haden’s status takes on added importance because cornerback Cody Sensabaugh hasn’t practiced this week due to a shoulder injury. That puts rookie third-rounder Cameron Sutton in line for his first career start.

The Dolphins short-circuited the New England offense by having two stout man-coverage corners on the outside, by putting one safety closer to the line of scrimmage (in order to take away inside routes), and by putting another safety deep (in order to take away longer passes down the middle of the field). This forced everything to the outside; with Xavien Howard blanketing Brandin Cooks, the passing game couldn’t get going.

The Steelers need Haden to do the same thing to Cooks. It may not matter, however, because the Patriots will have tight end Rob Gronkowski back against Pittsburgh. His absence versus Miami made it easier to shut down the middle of the field.

Whatever the Steelers do, they’ll need to do it better than they have in six prior games under coach Mike Tomlin against Brady and coach Bill Belichick. The Patriots are 5-1 during that stretch, with Brady throwing 22 touchdown passes, no interceptions — and with the offense averaging 39.3 points per game.

7 responses to “Steelers hopeful Joe Haden can play on Sunday

  1. 4 weeks isn’t long enough to heal. They would be taking a significant risk. If he plays, and I’m the Patriots, I cure my offense to go right at him. A few screen passes with offense of lineman barreling down on him will let us know if he’s healthy enough to be on the field.

  2. Why don’t we talk about the offense of the Steelers? I’ll take Bell over any stiff the Pats have, and Brown vs Cooks ANYDAY. If Bell can run the ball, Brady will be sitting by the heaters all game.

  3. That’s a tough call to make on a real catch 22 scenario: If they believe they need him to win at home then that same need will exist in the playoffs. Haden even at 70% makes for an obvious and immediate improvement to the Steelers secondary but he is only 4 weeks removed from a broken leg and if he re-injures it they may well be without him for the playoffs. That’s a serious roll of the dice predicated on the need for a home field advantage that may not mean all that much if Haden is lost.

  4. @grant35, as a Pats fan i’ve heard plenty of chatter about AB and Leveon Bell. They’re elite players, maybe the best at their positions right now. That’s why I have a healthy fear about Sunday’s game, not really knowing which Pats D will show up.

    This article is about Joe Haden, not the offense, but your point is valid. Any team which can control TOP will limit Brady, yes.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.