Steelers cornerback Joe Haden suffered a broken fibula in today’s victory over the Colts and will be sidelined indefinitely, head coach Mike Tomlin told reporters, including Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link). However, Haden only has a “slight” fracture in his leg, and should be able to return following a three-week absence, tweets Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
While the most recent news on Haden’s status is positive, his loss will be felt in the Steelers’ secondary no matter how long he’s out. Haden, who agreed to a three-year deal with Pittsburgh after being released by the Browns earlier this year, has played nearly every defensive snap for the Steelers in 2017 while grading as the league’s No. 33 cornerback among 117 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. The 28-year-old Haden has been excellent while defending mostly deep passes, as he ranks fourth in average air yards of passes against, according to Football Outsiders.
With Haden unavailable, the Steelers will likely turn to veteran William Gay to start on the outside opposite Artie Burns, with Mike Hilton remaining in the slot. Coty Sensabaugh, who has yet to play a single defensive snap, could also see more time on defense, while rookie Cameron Sutton — who is close to returning from injured reserve — may contribute down the stretch.
If Pittsburgh wants to look outside the organization for another defensive back, Vontae Davis — recently cut by the Colts — could be one option. Contending teams are reportedly interested in adding Davis for the stretch run, and while the Steelers aren’t known to have contacted Davis, they’d make sense as a potential suitor. Of course, Davis’ injury status and poor play could dissuade general manager Kevin Colbert from inking the veteran.
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