Joe Haden

Patriots-Steelers inactives: Haden out for Pittsburgh

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Patriots-Steelers inactives: Haden out for Pittsburgh

The Patriots have one of their top defenders back in action in Pittsburgh. 

Trey Flowers, who injured his ribs in Week 12 against the Dolphins, will be in uniform against the Steelers. The Patriots have been considerably thinned on the edge in recent weeks so having Flowers back -- both to rush the passer and set the edge against the run -- should be key for Bill Belichick's defense. 

Also in action for the Patriots are Stephon Gilmore (ankle), David Harris (ankle), Eric Lee (ankle), Matthew Slater (hamstring), LaAdrian Waddle (ankle) and Deatrich Wise (foot). All came into the game listed as questionable but will be available. 

There are few surprises on the Patriots inactive list as Chris Hogan's status was reported earlier in the day by ESPN. We broke down how things could look without Hogan could look like right here

On the Steelers' end of things, their defense will be forced to go another week without Joe Haden, who is still recovering from a broken leg suffered earlier this season. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin seemed optimistic earlier this week that Haden could return, but instead he'll rely on corners Artie Burns, Cam Sutton and Coty Sensabaugh on the outside. 

With both Haden and linebacker Ryan Shazier unavailable, the Steelers are without two of their best matchup players, meaning their desire to play more man-to-man defense -- a desire they professed all the way back in the spring -- may not be in the offing. 

Meanwhile, Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (hamstring) will be in uniform, complicating the matchups for the Patriots secondary. Gilmore could spend time on Smith-Schuster or Martavis Bryant if he's not deployed on Antonio Brown. That would likely leave Eric Rowe -- whose size makes him a logical match for Smith-Schuster or Bryant -- on whoever's left.

The Patriots-Steelers inactive lists:

PATRIOTS
DL Alan Branch
OL Cole Croston
RB Mike Gillislee
DL Geneo Grissom
WR Chris Hogan
S Brandon King
LB Kyle Van Noy

STEELERS
QB Joshua Dobbs
DT Daniel McCullers
TE Vance McDonald
OT Matt Feiler
CB Joe Haden
\WR Justin Hunter
S J.J. Wilcox

Patriots will be without Kyle Van Noy for showdown against Steelers

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Patriots will be without Kyle Van Noy for showdown against Steelers

The Patriots' defense won't be at full strength Sunday as linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who's been battling a calf injury for weeks, is ruled out against the Steelers:

And NBC Sports Boston's Mike Giardi wonders if it could have been avoided:

And what will it mean this afternoon? Giardi has an idea:

There is some good injury news for the Patriots, however:

As for the Steelers, they're getting nothing but good news:

 

Bill Belichick: Patriots have to be careful with the football around Joe Haden

Bill Belichick: Patriots have to be careful with the football around Joe Haden

When it comes to what the Browns are capable of, much of the focus this week has been placed on receiver Terrelle Pryor, whose athleticism poses a unique threat to the Patriots defense in Week 5. 

However, there is one player on the other side of the football that Patriots coach Bill Belichick considers to be among the best at his position. In the latest Belichick Breakdown on Patriots.com, Belichick highlights an interception made by corner Joe Haden against the Ravens in Week 2, calling him "one of the top corners in the league."

"Excellent hands," Belichick said. "Good quickness. Very instinctive. Smart football player that we've gotta run good routes and handle the football properly against."

The 27-year-old corner was taken with the No. 7 overall pick back in 2010, and he was named a Pro Bowler in 2013 and 2014. This season, according to Pro Football Focus, he's allowed nine receptions on 17 targets for 123 yards and two scores. He also has two picks (both against Baltimore), and quarterbacks have a rating of 76.0 when targeting Haden. 

You can watch the full Belichick Breakdown, which includes clips of Pryor making an explosive play in the passing game and running back Isaiah Crowell running for an 85-yard touchdown, right here.