The journey toward the Super Bowl is now well under way with the Pittsburgh Steelers back practicing at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, still informally referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility. With the regular season standing in their way on the path to a Lombardi, there will be questions for them to answer along the way.
We have asked and answered a lot of questions during the preseason and through training camp, but much of the answer-seeking ends in the regular season, and teams simply have to make do with what they have available to them. Still, there will always be questions for us.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond as they develop, looking for the answers as we evaluate the makeup of the Steelers on their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.
Question: Will Joe Haden play in the Steelers’ next game against the New England Patriots?
We should have a pretty good idea of whether or not this is within the realm of possibility later today, as head coach Mike Tomlin is scheduled to carry out his pre-game press conference, during which he will inevitably talk about, or be asked about, his status.
The Steelers signed cornerback Joe Haden because of what he can do against top-level competition, something that they struggled with last year. The Patriots qualify as top-level competition, so it would be great to see the former Pro Bowler be able to return after missing the past four games.
He suffered a high fibular fracture during the team’s ninth game of the season against the Colts, and since then they have struggled with big plays being converted against them. The only game in which they’ve managed to avoid it was against the Bengals, and they got a break, having a long touchdown called back because of a hold on a running back in pass protection.
Haden has not yet returned to practice, but he has previously said that he feels he would only need a few practices before he felt he was ready to play, once he is able to get back on the practice field. So if he practices tomorrow, there is a chance that he and play Sunday.
If not, we figure to be looking at a continued rotation of Coty Sensabaugh, who has been beaten for four or five touchdowns, and rookie Cameron Sutton, who has two games’ worth of NFL experience so far under his belt.
What is ultimately important, of course, is that Haden is healthy for the playoffs, as the Steelers have already guaranteed for themselves at least one game at home. But they could go a long way toward securing a week off and homefield advantage with a win next week, and having him there would help in achieving that goal.