CLEVELAND -- Former Cleveland Browns defensive back Joe Haden was not on the free-agent market for long when he was waived prior to the team’s fourth preseason game last week.
Mere minutes after being eligible to sign with another team, Haden reached a deal with the Browns’ chief rival in the AFC North Division, the Pittsburgh Steelers, who after playing against him for seven seasons, wanted a player of his caliber in the locker room.
“We know Joe very well just from competing against him over the years and always had appreciation not only for his talents, but just how he carries himself,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said in a conference call with the Cleveland media. “The professionalism, the way that he represented that organization, just always had a great deal of respect for him.”
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In fact, it is that professionalism that Haden displayed in seven years with the Browns that has gained him quick favor in the Pittsburgh locker room because it is what will get him ready in time for Sunday’s game at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.
“When he became available, obviously, we had an interest and it was able to come to pass,” Tomlin said. “It has really just been a good process getting to know him while at the same time, preparing to play. I think that is first things first.
“We have a lot of ground to cover in terms of getting Joe prepared to play. That has kind of taken center stage and getting to know and some of those things have happened on the perimeter of all of that, but it has been a good process thus far. He has made it that because he is a sharp guy and a professional.”
In his seven seasons with the Browns, Haden registered 376 total tackles, including 311 solo stops, 65 assists, two sacks, 101 passes defended, four forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and 19 interceptions, which he has returned for 231 yards and one touchdown.
“That is kind of being revealed to us as we work this week,” Tomlin said. “The amount of things that he can handle in the practice setting and the amount of detail and so forth, that is part of the thing that we are discovering as we prepare for the game.”
And no matter how much Haden is on the field against the Browns, Tomlin expects him to be tested by Cleveland coach Hue Jackson and rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer.
“I anticipate Coach is going to try to do what is required to win the game, and throwing the ball deep is a part of that,” Tomlin said. “He has thrown the ball deep on us in the past, regardless of who we have had at corner. That is just speculation from my perspective. I expect Coach Jackson to be prepared and to do his very best to win.”