When veteran cornerback Joe Haden made his way to the Pittsburgh Steelers, he brought a veteran presence to a young secondary.
Defensive back and former Miami Hurricane Artie Burns grew by leaps and bounds once he had the opportunity to worth with Haden who was a premier corner on a horrible team.
The former Cleveland Brown inked a three-year, $27 million contract with the Steelers in August.
On Sunday, Haden suffered a leg injury that has put him on the shelf indefinitely according to Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. Tomlin’s comments appeared on ESPN.
“Joe Haden has a fibula fracture,” Tomlin said. “It’s high on his leg. I don’t know what that means.”
His departure was immediately felt as Steel City gave up two long touchdowns of 60 and 61 yards against the tattered Indianapolis Colts after Haden left the game.
This late into the season only a fool would buy into the idea that Pittsburgh won’t make it into the postseason. However, Haden’s injury will burn in the worst way as jockeying for position continues into December.
The AFC field is littered with teams that run multiple sets with dynamic skill players. In particular, the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs have superstar tight ends that are vertical threats, both likely opponents in the Divisional and Championship rounds.
Both Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce respectively are deployed in a variety of ways and own the trust of their quarterbacks. Paired with speedsters such as Tyreek Hill and Brandin Cooks, these tight ends will present hellish matchups for Pittsburgh when it all hits the fan.
Haden noticeably brought a sense of structure to a secondary that often found itself out of position in 2016-17. Without his anchor, the young guns on the third level will be tested. And the real impact of Haden’s departure will reveal itself.
It looks like Pittsburgh better get ready to win a lot of shootouts moving forward.