Steelers Provide Injury Update, Game Status of CB Joe Haden

Getty Steelers' Joe Haden carries the ball for a touchdown after intercepting a pass versus the Ravens.

Pittsburgh Steelers star cornerback Joe Haden is one step closer to returning to the football field. Haden, who has missed the last four games with a foot injury, was listed as a full practice participant on the Steelers December 17 injury report. It’s a good sign since Haden did not participate on Wednesday and was limited on Thursday. Haden carries a questionable designation for Pittsburgh’s showdown with the Tennessee Titans on December 19.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (pec/shoulder) was also a full participant after being limited on Thursday. Linebackers T.J. Watt (groin) and Alex Highsmith (quad) also practiced fully. Rookie linebacker Buddy Johnson (foot) is the only player currently out for Sunday’s game.

Having Watt back is significant for the Steelers defense. As NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala tweeted, when Watt has more than 40 snaps, Pittsburgh is 6-2; less than 40 snaps, 0-4-1. Literally a game-changer.

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Hot Hand Harris

This season, Najee Harris has been a bright spot on a struggling Pittsburgh Steelers offense. Whether you were on the side of the team selecting a running back with their first overall draft pick or not, gaining a player like Harris is something the Steelers desperately needed.

According to Pro Football Focus, Harris has the league’s most total forced missed tackles. The tweet states 70, but the premium stats (available with subscription only) at PFF show Harris has caused defenders to miss 72 times — 29 as a receiver and 43 on runs.

Harris is also tied with Denver Broncos rookie Javonte Williams for the most receiving touchdowns by a rookie running back with three.

Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that Harris has not committed any fumbles in 238 carries — or any fumbles at all as a pro. Per PFF Bet, he’s ahead of New Orleans Saints’ Alvin Kumara (173) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Leonard Fournette (171).

Schedule Changes

In 2020, the Steelers were on the receiving end of a handful of unfortunate schedule changes due to COVID protocol mishaps of their opponents. This year, the league as a whole has avoided any modifications to the schedule — until now.

On December 17, the NFL announced three games had been rescheduled due to COVID-19 outbreaks impacting six teams.

The Las Vegas Raiders at Cleveland Browns game has been moved from Saturday, December 18 to Monday, December 20 at 5 p.m. eastern. The L.A. Rams versus Seattle Seahawks and Washington Football Team at Philadelphia Eagles will now both kick off Tuesday at 7 p.m. eastern.

It’s interesting that the league chose 7 p.m. eastern for two teams in the pacific time zone, as that’s 4 p.m. in Los Angeles. If it were a weekend game, it wouldn’t be a thing. Doubleheaders have previously been played at 10 p.m., so the timing is a bit of a surprise.

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