PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) – Far too often torched by Tom Brady and New England’s passing attack, the Steelers secondary could get back a vital piece Sunday when Pittsburgh hosts the Patriots at Heinz Field.
Joe Haden, out for the last month with a broken fibula, went through a light practice Wednesday. But Haden was quick to temper expectations that he’ll be in the lineup for a game that will likely decide home field advantage in the AFC Playoffs.
“It’s getting there,” he said. “I was limited today a little bit in practice. It was more of a hat day, a walk-through. I’ll be able to tell a little more tomorrow.”
Haden, acquired via free agency from Cleveland before the team’s final preseason game, was able to test the recovering leg earlier in the week.
“Monday and Tuesday, I came out here in the indoor (practice facility) during the off days and was running, trying to do backpedaling, just a little bit of cutting.”
Adding his leg was still sore, Haden noted that dealing with the pain could be a psychological battle as much as a physical struggle.
“It was a little bit of a mental thing, but I think I kind of got that out of the way the first two days (of the week),” he said. “Now I just want to be able to cover somebody, be able to run, stop, react and see how my leg feels.”
Pittsburgh’s defense could use any help possible after allowing more than 28 points per game over its last three games. Add in Brady not throwing an interception against the Steelers since 2005, plus the absence of injured linebacker Ryan Shazier and a return of Haden could be crucial.
But at the end of the day for Haden and the AFC North division champions, Sunday’s game is still a regular season contest and is expected by many to be just the first of two meetings with New England this season.
“We’re in the playoffs,” Haden added. “We have stuff to look forward to. I don’t want to go out there half-assed and be out there hurting the team and hurting myself.”