Dulac: ‘I Wouldn’t Hold Your Breath’ On Joe Haden Playing

Mike Tomlin kept the door open for Joe Haden to play this week. But that certainly doesn’t guarantee #21 is suiting up and one member of the Steelers’ media is taking a pessimistic approach. In his weekly chat over at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Gerry Dulac believes the odds are against Haden suiting up Sunday afternoon.

“I wouldn’t hold your breath, but have to see him practice first,” was Dulac’s response when asked if he thought Haden will be active against the New England Patriots.

Haden suffered a fractured fibula against the Detroit Lions and has been out ever since. Dulac explained his reasoning.

“Typically, with injuries such as a fractured fibula, a player comes back for a week and tests his injury in practice on the scout team, not just to see how he reacts but, more important, to see how the injury responds after several days of work. After one week of that, and all goes OK, they put him back in his usual spot. I expect that to happen. Remember, too, this is not a do-or-die playoff game. There are more to follow and the Steelers don’t want to jeopardize his return by just throwing him in the lineup.”

Of course, Dulac isn’t a doctor and our Melanie Friedlander is optimistic about Haden’s chances of giving it a go. But maybe Dulac has a good feel for how the coaching staff feels and what they expect. If he can’t go, Cam Sutton and Coty Sensabaugh, though Sensabaugh is dealing with some sort of shoulder injury, will continue to fill-in at LCB. If either does play, expect Tom Brady to attack them relentlessly.

Getting Haden back for this game would be huge to help turn around a secondary that’s been torched week after week. But like Dulac says, it’s important not to rush him. Winning a Week 15 game is not what the Steelers’ yearly goal is. It’s coming home with a Lombardi.

The first Steelers’ practice report will be issued later today. We’ll get our first sense of Haden’s level of participation.

About the Author

Alex Kozora
Full-time blogger from mom's basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.
  • Sam Clonch

    I remember how happy some were when we got rid of Ross Cockrell because we signed Haden. I was one that would have liked to keep him around for his last year. How much different might these last few games have been with Ross instead of Coty? He gave up a few here and there, but he didn’t get burned like we’ve seen the last 3-4 weeks.

  • steelburg

    I figured he wouldn’t play. I was just hoping for the best. From following Tomlin and how he handles his injuries it goes like this: You get clearance to practice you do a light work on the side with a couple of appearances working with your position group but not team work, after about a week of that and no set backs you attempt full practices the next week, after a week of full practices with no set backs you are then integrated back into the starting line up. So he is about a week away if no set backs IMO.

  • steelburg

    I agree. I was in that camp to keep him around too. He was normally in position to make the tackle even when he got beat. He also didn’t have a lot of mental lapses in coverage. He would be perfect in the role that Sensabaugh is currently in IMO.

  • Ring4Shaz

    I have no interest in Dulac’s opinion on an injury. He’s good at telling me after a win that it was a win. That’s about it. I’ll monitor the news and twitter for some actual post-practice reports.

  • PaeperCup

    The guy did break his leg. Could use the help though.

  • Steeler Nation!

    Yes. Cockrell was steady. He didn’t get completely out-athleted or burned for big plays several times a game like Sensabaugh has. Someone mentioned him among the worst in recent memory, and he definitely deserves that sort of recognition.

  • EdJHJr

    Im not 100 percent sure , but many of these long plays can be fixed by a player doing what he is supposed to be doing. I mean we literally have defensive backs running away, not towards a receiver

  • EdJHJr

    Im not 100 percent sure winning this game is a requirement. It will be interesting to see if Baltimore ends up going to ne

  • Conserv_58

    Uh, Gerry, I don’t hold my breath waitng for your next column to come out.

  • Scott

    Dulac downplays the importance of the game but home field advantage is on the line against the Patriots so the circumstances are different. If the bone wasn’t healed Haden wouldn’t even be practicing, so I think as long as there are no setbacks early in the week and he proves he can handle it, Haden will be back practicing with the regular squad by Thursday or Friday and then play on Sunday. I don’t think Haden needs as much prep time as other players because of his talent. And these beat writers have been wrong before regarding when players will return from injury.

  • Rob

    He was burned a lot in the preseason to no name guys. That would scare me off too.

  • Ring4Shaz

    Tomlin wouldn’t have telegraphed that Haden could play this week if they had already decided to keep him in mothballs for another week. Dulac’s statement makes no sense, which is par for the course.

  • Rob

    Fans and maybe this team is treating this game with too much respect/anticipation. Just another team. Play our game and let the chips fall where they do. If Joe is ready, play him. If he’s not, don’t. Doesn’t change my expectation/hope for a win either way.

  • nikgreene

    I totally agree. It is true that winning in week 15 is not the ultimate goal, but there is a big swing in the Steelers chances of making the Super Bowl between hosting the AFC title game and travelling to Foxboro. Though maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves – they’d still have to win in week 16 or 17, and then in the divisional round.

  • SwagDaddy330

    “I wouldn’t hold your breath, but have to see him practice first,”

    Haven’t even seen him practice yet.

  • Sam Clonch

    How did Coty look in the pre-season? Beside, Ross wouldn’t have been the starter. I’m not saying I didn’t REAAALLY like the Joe signing. I think Ross would have filled in much better as a backup than Coty has. Being in the system several years, he at least knew his assignments.

  • falconsaftey43

    yeah, coming into the season I was a fan of Cockrell, but he had a pretty terrible pre-season. Coty won the roster spot over Cockrell pretty fairly IMO.

  • SteelersGeek4Lyfe

    I wish we had kept Ross and picked up Coty. Ross is at least an average CB2. Excellent depth.

  • Sam Clonch

    I’m surprised (and I hope I’m not breaking the dam here) that I haven’t seen a surge of “put Brian Allen in” posts.

  • Sam Clonch

    I can’t remember how everyone did at camp, but I’m sure there are others who had a bad camp that ended up making the team (thinking of you, Shade Tree). As Justin Hunter shows us, camp isn’t everything. Guess I wish Ross would have showed a little more before the season, I’d sure like to have him right now.

  • SteelersGeek4Lyfe

    Brian Allen needs to be the starter, like, yesterday

  • Sam Clonch

    He’s obviously the next Richard Sherman.

  • Rob

    I wouldddd go back and find the lovely stats Alex put together for us, but I’m not that invested haha I do remember him having no success against AB, and letting guys get behind him during games in the preseason, much like Coty has recently.

    He could have filled in well im sure (he’s not doing terribly with the Giants right now from what I’ve seen, but I wouldn’t confuse it for good, kinda like Coty to be honest) but if a team comes calling with an offer and you feel like youre not giving up much, you pull the trigger. I think that’s what happened. They also likely weren’t expecting to not have Sutton for as long as they were

  • SteelersGeek4Lyfe


  • Michael Putman

    Look… even with Haden in the line up the Steelers aren’t likely to win a low scoring affair against the Pats*. If we take away one receiver from Tom*, he will find another one. The way to beat the Pats* is for our offense to consistently put up TD’s, not turn over on downs or settle for field goals.

    If Haden isn’t healthy, this game isn’t worth an injury setback. If he isn’t ready, let him rest and recuperate. I’d rather a healthy team playing road games then an injured team…

  • steelburg

    He did but the preseason took away his best asset. He is a player that would prepare for the player he is going against by watching film of both the WR and the QB tendencies. For a guy like Cockrell the Preseason is a nightmare because you have constant changes at QB and WR from quarter to quarter. Ross probably looked a lot better in practices and it looked like he was going to get the nod had the Browns not cut Haden.

  • Stairway7

    If the Dolphins can beat them so can we. I think Brady and Belichek get in the coaches, fans and players heads.

  • Stairway7

    If the Dolphins can beat them so can we. I think Brady and Belichek get in the coaches, fans and players heads.

  • Denny

    Getting his first NFL snaps at CB against Brady should be ideal. They will probably have him shadow Gronk since he has the size.

  • NinjaMountie

    I don’t expect him to play. I’m open to being pleasantly surprised, though.

  • mhurk

    Is Dulac willing to put His money where His mouth is? Cause I got a Benjamin that says Haden plays.

  • SteelersGeek4Lyfe

    He should be able to shut Gronk down pretty easily.

  • Cullen James Riley

    I think he fractured his fibula against the Indianapolis Colts – not the Detroit Lions.

  • dany

    Those words have never been written before in a non joking manner!

  • 2winz

    As well they should.. If you look at the qbs that have represented the afc in the Super Bowl, you will mostly see Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Ben Roethlisberger. If you are not treating this game with the respect/anticipation that it deserves, then you have not really been watching football the last 10+ years. With Manning being retired, and Brady having owned this team for many years, how the heck do you look at pats as just another team? Sounds like denial. You know you will see them in the playoffs, and they know they will see us in the playoffs.

  • 2winz

    The Dolphins didn’t have to deal with Gronk. They also held Brady to 0 for 11 on 3rd downs..That just does not happen. Realistically, that wont happen this week most likely. I’m not saying we can’t or won’t win, I’m just saying the Dolphins beating them has no relevance to us beating them.

  • Roblisberger

    Why would this journalist have any more clout than any of us speculating on this injury?

  • Rob

    1) This game doesn’t guarantee anything. A win here doesn’t matter more than any of the other wins/losses this season. It’s not the AFC Championship
    2) Im not saying to ignore the history, and I think you’re adding your own interpretation to what I said, but there’s really no reason to switch everything up over one game. We’ve played well for the most part, and if we continue to do that we will win. Just because it’s the Patriots doesn’t mean we need to reinvent the wheel. Just another team, Another Sunday, Another regular season game.

  • Rob

    Yeah and it’s fine to an extent since they’ve had our number, but at what point are you preparing for an image of the team that’s not necessarily the one in front of you? Both teams have changed a lot year to year. Even more so for the Patriots.

  • 2winz

    it doesnt guarantee anything, yes, but playing at Home in the playoffs instead of New England is a big plus and you would have to think improves our odds of making it yo the Super Bowl.

    And youre right in not changing things up.. but this isnt just any team either. you cant turn ot over and this is the one team you need to play a near perfect game against.

  • Rob

    You should be trying to play a perfect game against every team, and every week. Admission that that is not what is going on in the locker room is a failure imo.

    I’m not saying that it shouldn’t have more weight for them given the circumstances or history, but I also think it is blown way out of proportion by a lot of Steelers fans. This is not our Super Bowl.

  • 2winz

    youre right about them trying to play a perfect game every week, but from a fans perspective, you realize not every team has a qb like Brady that will take advantage of your mistakes. its not just brady, its any time this team goes against other elite qbs like aaron rodgers too. only difference is that Brady is the only real elite qb in the afc other than Ben right now.Also another point I forgot to mention on why this game matters is that if we win, not only will we most likely have the #1 seed, but that would most likely mean the patriots wont get a bye week and have to play against teams like the ravens and jags first.