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Haden: 'I'm really excited'

Posted Nov 30, 2017

Joe Haden was encouraged when Mike Tomlin said he would leave the light on.

Leaving the light on: Joe Haden will miss Monday night’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, and doesn’t have a timetable or target date yet for his return.

But what he does have, is a light that is being left on for him. And that is keeping him going.

Haden, who suffered a fractured fibula against the Colts on Nov. 12, just got off crutches a few days ago and is now riding the stationary bike and walking on the water treadmill. And he is doing it with the hope to return to the field either before the end of the regular season, or in the postseason.

“That is something I never had to worry about. I’m really excited,” said Haden. “Coach (Mike) Tomlin said he’s keeping the light on for me. It’s a bone. Your body has to heal. I’m just doing as much as I possibly can, but at the same time, knowing I don’t want to rush it because your bone has to heal.”

Haden said when the injury first occurred he didn’t realize how bad it was. He tried to run on the sidelines, and when there was pain, headed to the locker room for x-rays.

“It was the worst feeling ever,” said Haden. “I had a thigh bruise before, but it felt like a bruise on the side of my calf. I told the trainer. ‘I’ll be good. Just give me 60 seconds.’ I tried to run again, and I felt the clicking. That’s when we went back and got the x-ray and saw that I fractured my fibula.”

While he isn’t on the field Haden is going to meetings and practice, keeping on top of everything. He said whenever he returns, he will be ready and won’t need a lot of lead time to prepare, even if it means not playing until the postseason.

“It doesn’t matter as long as I’m able to make the cuts, jumping, moving,” said Haden. “I’ll be able to go two days before a game.”

Heat is on: When it comes to rivalries, the AFC North is a hotbed for some of the most heated, fierce ones out there. And that will be on display Monday night when the Steelers take on the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium.

“It’s a rivalry,” said Le’Veon Bell. “That is just the way the game is. You have two teams that don’t like each other on the field. There are going to be things that happen off the field too. It comes with it. It’s football.”

The Steelers, 9-2, need the win to keep pace at the top of the AFC, while the Bengals, 5-6, need to win in the fight for a playoff spot.

“We know they are in position to get in the playoff hunt, they have to win out,” said Bell. “We know they are going to come and play hard and tough. We have to go out there and prepare that way. We will continue to do what we do, treat this game like a rivalry game like we normally do.” 

His father’s footsteps: On Wednesday Cameron Heyward was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his dominance against the Packers, finishing with two sacks. six tackles and three quarterback hurries, and breathing down Brett Hundley’s neck all night.

It’s the second time he won the honor this year, doing so against the Ravens in Week 4, and becoming one of only two Steelers, Troy Polamalu (2010) the other, to win multiple Defensive Player of the Week honors in the same season in the past 20 years.

Heyward, who now has a career-high nine career sacks, has moved into the Top 10 in fan voting for the 2018 Pro Bowl, but still has a way to go.

And Heyward doesn’t want to be selected to the Pro Bowl just for a pat on the back. He wants to do it to carry on the Heyward legacy his father, the late Craig ‘Ironhead’ Heyward, was a Pro Bowl selection in 1995 while with the Atlanta Falcons.

“I would like to be recognized,” said Heyward. “That isn’t the ultimate goal. It would be one thing off my check list. You want to be recognized by your peers, know you are appreciated. I want to be able to say I did the same thing as my dad. He got recognized. That is one of my goals.”  

Heyward said the most important thing for him is to just let his play do the talking.

“I am just trying to play good football,” said Heyward. “I have to continue to do that.”