Haden Looking Forward to Secondary Changes

Steelers CB Hoping New Additions Bring Results

Josh Rowntree
May 22, 2018 - 2:37 pm
Steelers CB Joe Haden on first day of OTAs

Josh Rowntree

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PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) - The Steelers used the offseason to retool their defense, specifically the back-end of the secondary.

The writing for the overhaul was on the wall following Pittsburgh’s 45-42 loss to Jacksonville in the AFC Divisional Round this past January. 

It’s a loss that Steelers cornerback Joe Haden is embracing.

“You don’t want to have a team put up 45 points on you like last year in the playoffs,” Haden said following the team’s first day of OTAs. “We feel like we have a lot of growing to do and I feel like we have the players and the coaches who are willing and ready to do it."

Gone is free safety Mike Mitchell, often responsible for big plays and missed tackles. Out is strong safety Robert Golden, whose biggest impact on the Steelers 2017-2018 season was a trick-play pass against Cincinnati. Last month, the team released veteran safety J.J. Wilcox.

In their place, Pittsburgh brought in a host of versatile safeties with intentions of using them in various spots and situations.

“You can get very creative as far as training our safeties for dime and they can play nickle (packages),” Haden said. "They’re really, really good tacklers and box guys. They can cover. As long as they show strengths, coach is going to put them in places to succeed. So, I just think they’ll come out here and play their best and coach will find a spot for them.”

First-round pick Terrell Edmunds and free agent signee Morgan Burnett highlight the new safety additions to the secondary. Marcus Allen, a fifth-round pick out of Penn State, may bring a downhill tackling presence that the team lacked following the injury to Ryan Shazier. 

“It’s really good,” Haden said of the versatility of the new players. "It helps us do a lot of things. It helps us disguise a lot easier. People are in certain positions and they won’t know if we’re in man or zone. So, it gives us a lot of different angles we can come at.”

Like Haden, Burnett is a veteran brought in for immediate help, allowing the younger players time to learn the system.

"I think Morgan is such a smart player and has been in the League for such a long time and understands football, understands concepts,” Haden added. "I think we’re kind of more on the same page. I’ve been through a lot of defensive coordinators, same as him. So, we can just feel each other out and feel what’s going on."

On top of the player changes, the Steelers also hired former Penn State assistant Tom Bradley to be the team’s new defensive backs coach, replacing Carnell Lake. 

“We’re changing up a couple calls, a couple terminologies so that coach and everybody can learn it and get on the same page with it,” Haden said. "Basically from the beginning of offseason workouts, we’re just trying to get it together and have it set in stone. So in the next couple we should have everything right.”

Haden and Burnett, as well as returning safety Sean Davis, will be leaned upon by the rookies during the start of their careers.

"With the younger guys, I think it’s mainly just listening and trying to figure out what you’ve got to do first,” Haden said of the steep NFL learning curve. "After that, ask question and let us know what you need any help on and we can help them out. They have the talent. They have the ability level.”