Steelers CB Sets Sights on How Many Interceptions?


Christian Petersen/Getty Images Joe Haden, #23, celebrates with Steven Nelson, #22, after an interception against the Arizona Cardinals in 2019.

If Pittsburgh Steelers defensive backs Joe Haden and Minkah Fitzpatrick are correct in predicting their interception totals for 2020, the Steelers are going to collect a crazy number of interceptions this season.

Last week safety Minkah Fitzpatrick predicted that he would be responsible for six or seven interceptions in 2020. Talking to Steelers fans on yesterday’s Steelers Nation Unite Huddle, Haden one-upped Fitzpatrick.

“I am expecting to get eight,” said Haden. “I had five last year and I easily could have had nine. I think I dropped four picks…. My goal this year is to have at least eight picks.”

From your mouth to God’s ears, Joe. If Haden were to nab eight interceptions that would be a career year, not to mention a first-team All-Pro performance. Haden had a career-high six interceptions during his rookie year with the Browns in 2010, but he’s had just 21 more in the nine seasons since. In ten NFL seasons, Haden has earned Pro Bowl honors three times, in 2013, 2014 and 2019.

Most Difficult NFL Receiver to Cover?

During the same conversation, Haden was also asked which NFL receiver he’s found to be most challenging to cover. Haden thought back to his days on the Cleveland Browns and admitted that in his humble opinion, it was former Steelers All-Pro Antonio Brown. “I had to [face him] twice a year, every year, for seven years, and he gave me headaches every time,” admitted Haden.

Joe Haden on Rookie Receiver Chase Claypool

That said, it’s encouraging that Haden has had such high praise for Steelers second-round draft pick Chase Claypool, telling us that Claypool is ‘Going to be a Problem’ for NFL defenders league-wide, both in the running game and passing game.

During another media session on Tuesday Haden recounted trying to stop Claypool on a back-shoulder fade route during a training camp practice. “I was underneath,” he said, “I tried to play the hands. He kept it in his hands and he didn’t let me knock it out.” The end result was a juggling touchdown catch for the rookie.

But it’s more than that one catch that has Haden impressed.

“It wasn’t even just that play,” Haden said. “He’s had a couple plays against me this camp. I’ve lined up against him often. He’s a big, fast receiver who’s able to adjust to the ball in the air.”

Haden also appreciates that the rookie—who played his college football at Notre Dame—isn’t too boastful.

“He doesn’t really say too much. He’s just out there every day working hard, asking questions of the offense, getting the routes. I think he’s a great young talent, and his work ethic shows he wants to be great…. As long as he keeps healthy he’s going to be a problem.”

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