3 things Joe Haden’s positive COVID-19 test means for the Pittsburgh Steelers

Allison Koehler
·2 min read

The unfortunate news of cornerback Joe Haden testing positive for COVID-19 presents a big problem for the Pittsburgh Steelers, especially at this point in the season.

Expect a lot of Cam Sutton

AP Photo/Adrian Kraus

It won't be the first time this season that the Steelers have been without Haden -- he suffered a concussion versus the Washington Football Team and missed the Week 14 matchup at Buffalo. Cam Sutton will step up in Haden's absence as he did versus the Bills, and Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield will try to take advantage of the matchup. Sutton played 96 percent or 72 defensive snaps. In 48 coverage snaps (16 press), Sutton allowed three receptions on six targets, two first downs and forced an incompletion. He also added two tackles, a batted pass and a fumble recovery. According to Pro Football Focus, he graded at 29.8 in 22 run defense snaps. Pittsburgh looked to Justin Layne for just 15 percent or 11 defensive snaps versus the Bills.

No Haden for (at least) Wild Card game

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Not having Haden for a meaningless game versus the Browns is one thing, but he'll also miss round one of the playoffs and perhaps beyond. Due to a recent change in the NFL's COVID-19 protocol, even if asymptomatic, a player who has tested positive for the virus must isolate for a minimum of 10 days. This puts Haden's earliest return to the team at Tuesday, Jan. 12; however, players who have previously tested positive -- tight end Vance McDonald, guard Kevin Dotson, running back James Conner and linebacker Vince Williams -- missed two games apiece.

Contact tracing reveals two close-contact players

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Tight end Eric Ebron and linebacker Cassius Marsh were deemed close contacts with Haden. According to ESPN's Brooke Pryor, Ebron recently posted video of him, Marsh and their families visiting the Haden residence. The two will miss Week 17 and must isolate for five days. If Ebron and Marsh test negative during isolation, they could be available for the Wild Card game.