Reign On Spotlight Player of the Week: Joe Haden

As a local market representative and league manager of one of 16 teams invited to be a part of Crown Royal’s inaugural Fantasy Football League dubbed “First and Crown,” I will be using this spot every Sunday before the Browns kick off against their respective opponent to tell you who we’ll be watching during this week’s contest.

This Week’s Spotlight: Joe Haden, CB

Joe HadenThe successes of Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden are well documented. He’s turned well-paid, play-making wide receivers into run-of-the-mill route runners essentially every time he takes the field. During the Browns’ Week 11 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Haden actually had an equal amount of receptions as Pro Bowl receiver AJ Green. Haden actually amassed more yards and one more touchdown thanks to his first quarter “pick six.”

The Pittsburgh Steelers are not only coming off of a huge week of offensive output, but they too come equipped with a wide receiver who is in the midst of a huge season. Despite having just five touchdowns, Antonio Brown is presently tops in the league in receptions (74) and fifth in receiving yardage (952). He’s only been targeted less often than such receiving laureates like Green, Detroit’s Calvin Johnson, Tampa Bay’s Vincent Jackson and Washington’s Pierre Garçon. It’s no secret that the Steelers, under offensive coordinator Todd Haley, like to throw the ball. It’s equally well known that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger can extend plays with his frame and tree trunk legs. It wouldn’t be surprising if this week turns out to be Haden’s toughest challenge to date.

Earlier this week, Haden spoke of his new outlook on the game—one with increased focus, established priorities, and elevated levels of maturity. He also spoke of the difficulty of covering receivers with Roethlisberger under center. But most importantly, he spoke of how tired he is of losing to the same team time and time again, last year’s win with Roethlisberger injured notwithstanding. Haden gets it. He understands the rivalry, he understands the challenge of beating a team that has been dominant since the day he arrived. The Browns have already topped the Bengals and Baltimore Ravens at home. If they’re to add the Steelers to the list of AFC North rivals to add one to the loss column after visiting FirstEnergy Stadium, there is no doubt that Haden will be an integral factor in the outcome.

Previous Spotlight Players:

Josh Gordon, WR
Barkevious Mingo, OLB
Brandon Weeden, QB
Jabaal Sheard, OLB
Paul Kruger, OLB
D’Qwell Jackson, ILB
Jordan Cameron, TE

(Image via Candice Vlcek/WFNY)