Steelers News

Joe Haden Explains How The Steelers Might Go About Replacing Mike Mitchell, William Gay

There’s been a lot of speculation so far this offseason that the Pittsburgh Steelers will be moving Sean Davis to more of a free safety role in the defense in 2018 now that Mike Mitchell has been released and Morgan Burnett has been signed. On Thursday, Steelers cornerback Joe Haden was asked about how the secondary roles might change in 2018 and while he doesn’t know for sure if Davis will be moved to more of a free safety role, he certainly thinks he has the skill set for such a position transition.

“I don’t know. I don’t know yet,” Haden said when asked if he knows for sure if Davis will be moved to free safety in 2018. “We haven’t really talked about who’s in what positions yet. Sean, I think he could definitely be a free safety, though. He’s the dude I could see definitely being able to cover sideline to sideline and his tackling, he’s going to be able to get people down.”

Haden was also asked about what the team needs specifically out of the free safety position in the defense regardless of the player that ultimately plays it.

“At the free safety spot, we just need a guy, you know, sure tackler, being able to go sideline to sideline,” Haden explained. “Being over the top of the corners, being able to just be the blanket over the defense. If anything breaks, it’s a 20-yard gain and not a 50-yard gain. Being able to be, if they do break the tackles through us and they do happen to run the ball through there, they can be able to get them down.”

In addition to releasing Mitchell during the offseason, the Steelers also released veteran cornerback William Gay, who spent most of the 2017 season playing the dimebacker role in the defense. On Thursday, Haden made it sound like either Mike Hilton or Cameron Sutton will play the dimebacker spot in 2018.

“And with the dime, somebody that’s very smart, can blitz, can cover and knows the defense very well,” Haden said about the role of the dimebacker position in the Steelers defense. “And with Cam Sutton and with Mike Hilton, and with the body types, and the people that we have in there, we have a lot of guys that we know can cover the third receiver, can cover the tight end and do that.”

Last season, Hilton was the Steelers nickel cornerback while Sutton, who missed a lot of his rookie season due to a hamstring injury, only logged a little more than 100 total defensive snaps. As for Burnett’s offseason addition, the former Green Bay Packers safety is expected to play down in the box quite a bit with the Steelers just as he has for a good part of his NFL career. That would likely result in Davis switching to more of a free safety role.

The Steelers are expected to select a safety in the early rounds of this year’s draft and if that’s ultimately what winds up happening, it will be interesting to see how the coaching staff goes about trying to get that player some playing time during his rookie season.

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