A lot of things will be different for Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joe Haden. For one thing, he won’t spend the vast majority of it under the assumption that he will be playing for the Cleveland Browns, which is a first in his nine-year career.
Perhaps an equally significant change, both personally and professionally, is the fact that he has had the opportunity to have a healthy offseason for the first time in three years. That is big not just in general, but also specifically as he has his first full offseason as a member of a new team.
Haden spoke to reporters for about 10 minutes yesterday and fielded questions on a number of topics. Even when not asked directly about it, he spent much of that time talking about being healthy, which is clearly a big deal for him.
“It helps me out a whole lot”, he said about finally being healthy in the offseason again. “I came into it quick, just ready to go”. He talked about “being able to hang out with the guys, being able to not really do too much [in terms of gameplanning], it’s just understanding the defense, understanding communications, how we’re going to do things, stuff like that”.
He even said that he began his offseason workout routine after just a week off after the Steelers’ season ended, and said that he normally would give himself a good month off or more. One should note that Pittsburgh’s season ended two weeks later than his ever did with the Browns, since they never reached the postseason.
Still, he started practicing again so quickly, he said, because “I was happy I could do it”. He said that it made him feel good being able to get his workout done in the morning and have the rest of the afternoon to himself, a luxury he hasn’t had lately.
“My groin’s good, my knee’s good, I’m feeling healthy”, he told reporters. “I was able to get a full offseason workout. My last two offseasons I hadn’t been able to train like I wanted to, so this year I got train like I never have before, and I’m feeling healthy and I’m ready to go”.
While he has already been a regular presence at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex this offseason, he said that is not a change. “I always like to come back” to the practice facility, he told reporters. “I like ball. I like being in the building when I can be in the building. If coaches are here, I like to be here. Just being able to bond with my dudes and have a good time, and kick it”.
The 2018 season will obviously be a big one not just for Haden, but for the Steelers, and the former Pro Bowl cornerback could play a big role in how far they are able to go this year. On paper, he should have the best season a cornerback has had on the team in several years.