Joe Haden: Steelers should embrace rare ‘underdog’ label
If there’s one player more than anyone else on the Pittsburgh Steelers roster who understands what it’s like to enter a season as an underdog, it’s probably Joe Haden.
Haden spent his first seven NFL seasons with the Cleveland Browns – and they went 29-83 in that time. So with the Steelers entering 2019 in the rarefied (for them) position of non-favorites in the AFC North, Haden perhaps can offer the best perspective.
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“Just having that chip on our shoulder and having people doubting us, I think it’s something we can use to our advantage,” Haden said after an organized team activities session at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex earlier this week. “Just come out here and grind.”
The Steelers are a consensus No. 2 pick in the AFC North, both by the national media and from Vegas sportsbooks. They’d won the division three of the prior four seasons until finishing a half-game out in 2018.
The favored Browns, meanwhile, snapped a streak of seven consecutive last-place finishes by taking third at 7-8-1 last season.
“This team, I feel like they’ve not really been underdogs,” Haden said of the Steelers. “Ever since I’ve been playing against the Steelers for seven years, they were never an underdog.
Helping out with the Steelers today. Wrote about Joe Haden and the need to force more turnovers. https://t.co/sqEy9o7AKl
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“You hear the outside noise,” Haden said moments earlier. “Usually, Pittsburgh, (outsiders are) always, ‘Aw, they’re going to be in the playoffs.’ They just basically put us in the playoffs. Now to hear people not talk as highly of us has kind of put a chip on our shoulder.
“I think that’s a great thing. We’ve got something to really work for.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .