Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Haden to Start in Season Opener Colbert Says Ex-Brown 'Capable Starter'

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Haden to Start in Season Opener Colbert Says Ex-Brown 'Capable Starter'

Article excerpt

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -Joe Haden stood on the sidelines, in workout shorts, and watched his new teammates win their final preseason game in the waning seconds against the Carolina Panthers.

That will be the last time he will be out of uniform and not playing with the Steelers, who signed the former Pro Bowl cornerback to a three-year, $27 million deal and intend to start him immediately when the regular season begins Sept. 10.

And he couldn't be more excited.

"Once I was free, I wanted to have a chance to play in some meaningful games," Haden said. "They don't miss the playoffs. I just wanted to be part of something, to play in playoffs."

Haden should get that chance with the Steelers, who wasted little time signing him after he was released Tuesday by the Cleveland Browns.

Haden, who had 19 interceptions in seven non-playoff seasons with the Browns, said the Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders and Miami Dolphins also were interested in signing him. But he said he chose the Steelers because of coach Mike Tomlin and former University of Florida teammates Maurkice Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert, in addition to their winning tradition.

"Once I got released, there were a lot of teams who were interested," Haden said in the locker room after the game. "But when you talk about Pittsburgh, the interest they had, how excited they were, it wasn't too hard of a decision."

The Steelers intend to use Haden, a former No. 1 pick in 2010, on the left side of their defense, the same position he played for seven seasons with the Browns. Artie Burns will play the right side.

The Steelers might not be done with changes in their secondary.

Coty Sensabaugh, who was challenging Ross Cockrell for the starting position now occupied by Haden, could move into the slot in place of William Gay. The intention is to have rookie Cam Sutton eventually become the nickel back, but that might not be for a while.

"It's definitely a bonus, [having] a guy who's proven, who can play man-to-man coverage, cover zero, all the time," Burns said. "He follows the best receivers. That's the guy we've been chasing - to be able to play man, single coverage, sit and have tight coverage and send a blitz. …

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