PITTSBURGH — After battling injuries over the past two offseasons, Joe Haden plans to make up for lost time.
The Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback said he took one week off after the regular season ended, and after morning beach workouts in Southern California, Haden is with his teammates for Phase One of voluntary workouts.
If the Steelers want to play more man coverage in 2018, which Haden suspects, the 29-year-old corner said he’s “good with it,” thanks to his clean injury slate.
“My groin’s good. My knee’s good. I’m feeling healthy,” Haden said. “I was able to get a full offseason workout. My last two offseasons I haven’t been able to train like I wanted to. This year, I got after training like I never have before.”
Joe Haden is ready to see what he can do with a full offseason with the Steelers. Mark Alberti/ Icon Sportswire
Haden underwent groin surgery in January 2017, which slowed his training for that upcoming season. The previous offseason, Haden was recovering from a concussion scare that cost him all but five games in 2015.
Haden’s injury history and hefty salary made him expendable for the Cleveland Browns, who released him in late August, but the Steelers quickly signed him to a three-year, $27-million, thrilled that a Pro Bowl-caliber cornerback was available so late in the preseason.
Haden acquitted himself well in 11 games with 20 tackles and one interception as Pittsburgh’s lead corner alongside Artie Burns. Haden missed five games with a broken fibula, an injury that shouldn’t affect his long-term outlook with the team. The Steelers are carrying Haden’s $11.916 million salary-cap hit because of his importance to the defense.
Haden wants to see what he can do with a full offseason with the Steelers.
“[Before] it was just trying to get the plays and that stuff down,” said Haden about his limited offseason work. “Now, I can work on myself and my individual game and put it together. I was happy I could do it, being able to be healthy. It made me feel good working out in the mornings, get that work in, then having afternoons to myself.”
The Steelers should have a solid corner rotation with Haden, Burns, slot corner Mike Hilton, Cam Sutton and potentially a draft pick. Haden seems eager to take ownership of that group as he heads into his ninth NFL season.