Colbert: Steelers 'very fortunate' to get Haden

CHARLOTTE _ The Steelers don't often aggressively pursue veteran free agents just prior to the roster cut to 53, as they did with former Cleveland cornerback Joe Haden.

General Manager Kevin Colbert explained why that rarely takes place prior to Thursday night's preseason-ending, 17-14 win at Carolina.

"Starter-capable guys don't get released at this time of year, quite honestly," Colbert said. "It's usually younger kids that aren't quite ready to play or its older veterans that are probably on the down side of things.

"We didn't view (Haden) in that manner at all. We think he's a young, capable starter that can help us win."

The Steelers signed Haden on Wednesday, one day after announcing a trade with San Francisco for tight end Vance McDonald.

"If we started the season without these guys, we were going to start the season without them," Colbert said. "But when two quality guys, quality starters are available, I think you're negligent if you don't look into it."

Colbert said the Steelers felt "very fortunate" to acquire Haden.

"I don't know if he's a missing piece," Colbert said. "I think he's a capable starter, he's proven that throughout his career."

Colbert said McDonald (6-foot-4, 267 pounds) had "the size, the speed, the athleticism," the Steelers seek in a tight end.

"He shows up as a blocker and he shows up as a receiver," Colbert added.

OFF AND RUNNING: McDonald thought it was important to play in the Steelers' preseason finale.

"Yeah, for sure," he said.

Head coach Mike Tomlin apparently did, too.

McDonald played 15 snaps against the Panthers.

"That was, I think, Coach Tomlin's kind of goal, just get a couple boxes checked, get out there, get a couple snaps in," McDonald said. "It's a completely different thing here, completely different team. We're after one thing and that's to win a championship.

"Now we can hit Week One (of the regular season) rolling."


COLBERT'S TURN:** The Steelers announced a two-year contract extension for Colbert on Thursday. Colbert is contractually tied to the Steelers through the 2020 draft.

Tomlin received a two-year contract extension on Aug. 4 and is contractually tied to the Steelers through the 2020 season.

"Coach Tomlin is a very easy gentleman to work with," Colbert said. "I think we see things, a lot of things, in very similar ways. I can give him an older viewpoint. He can give me a younger viewpoint which is kind of a nice, I think, complementary trait for both of us.

"Since we've been together we've been able to work together. We don't always agree but we respect each other's opinions and we're able to work through any differences that we have, and there aren't that many."

QUICK-HITTERS: Wide receiver Martavis Bryant still hasn't been fully reinstated by the NFL from indefinite suspension but Colbert said the Steelers will "go under the assumption, hopefully, that he's fully reinstated," when they cut their roster to 53. "To this point he hasn't done anything to make us think otherwise," Colbert said. Rosters must be reduced to 53 by 4 p.m. on Saturday. Teams can sign up to 10 players for their practice squads after 12 p.m. on Sunday … The Panthers played a video tribute to late Steelers chairman Dan Rooney between the first and second quarters. "I'd like to thank the Carolina Panthers," Tomlin said. "That recognition of Mr. Rooney and his legacy was a really classy thing, I really appreciate it. I want to thank them from us as an organization." … Rookie running back James Conner played on the kickoff, kickoff return, punt and punt return teams. Conner made a diving tackle at the end of a 34-yard kickoff return by wide receiver Curtis Samuel that might have otherwise gone for a touchdown … Cornerback Mike Hilton had his second sack of the preseason … Safety Jordan Dangerfield suffered a left ankle injury in the first half and did not return. Safety Malik Golden suffered a right groin injury making an interception in the third quarter and did not return. Cornerback Cam Sutton suffered a right hamstring injury in the third quarter and did not return.

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