New Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joe Haden will get to face his former team on Sunday in the 2017 regular season opener and he’s fully expecting the Cleveland Browns to attack him down the field.
“They go deep all the time,” Haden said of the Browns’ passing attack on Wednesday, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. “Especially with me being there, first game, I expecting them to try something.”
Browns rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer, who Cleveland drafted in the second-round this year, talked on Wednesday about his former teammate and admitted that going after the Steelers cornerbacks is something we should all expect on Sunday.
“Obviously, I have a lot of respect for Joe, and he took me in with open arms when I got here in Cleveland and showed me the reigns around here, but now it is about going out there and making sure that when the plays are needed,” Kizer said of Haden. “We are going to go after them and try to make them.”
Even though Haden is expecting Kizer to attack him during Sunday’s game in Cleveland, he knows that’s just part of the game regardless of the team he’s facing.
“Honestly, that doesn’t matter,” Haden said, according to Tony Grossi of ESPN.com. “I expect every time I am lined up out there that they might throw the ball to me. I’m going to be locked in. I’m going to be ready to go and be ready to make some plays. If they do, they do. If they don’t, they don’t. I’m just going to be ready for whatever.”
The fact that Haden might ultimately be tested often by the Browns offense on Sunday also doesn’t really phase Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, either.
“I anticipate Coach [Jackson] is going to try to do what is required to win the game and throwing the ball deep is a part of that. He has thrown the ball deep on us in the past, regardless of who we have had at corner,” Tomlin said during his Wednesday conference call with the Cleveland media.
It will be interesting to see how often Haden is lined up against Browns second-year wide receiver Corey Coleman on Sunday. Coleman, who caught 33 passes for 413 yards and three touchdowns during his 2016 rookie season, is viewed by Haden as a younger brother, according to what the Steelers new cornerback said during his Wednesday conference call with the Browns media.
“Ever since he signed with Jordan [brand], when we were out at the Nike camp and he was in high school, I was his coach,” Haden explained of his relationship with Coleman. “I have known Corey for a while. We are super good friends. The thing is, friends are people I play against all of the time. When we are on the field, it is what it is. I have to do my job, and they have to get theirs done, but off the game field it is all love.”