Brown, Haden: Game Within Game

Sunday notebook also includes items on Ray Horton, Jason Worilds, and The Bug Boy.

Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley called Joe Haden of the Cleveland Browns "the best cornerback we've seen this year."

So maybe he can slow down Antonio Brown.

* The Steelers' split end is leading the NFL with 74 catches and is fifth with 952 yards.

* He's caught a pass in 50 consecutive games, including postseason, and is coming off back-to-back 100-yard games.

* Brown, in fact, had 105 yards in the first quarter on his way to 147 against the Detroit Lions.

* His receptions and yardage through 10 games are second in team history to the eye-popping numbers Buddy Dial put up in 1963, when Dial finished with 60 catches for 1,295 yards in a 14-game season.

* Brown is on pace for 118 catches for 1,523 yards, which would break team records of 112 receptions (Hines Ward) and 1,398 receiving yards (Yancey Thigpen).

Those are reasonable expectations for Brown, unless Haden knocks him off pace.

"I think that Haden is a heck of a player," said Haley. "He has great feel, instincts and speed. He's a complete package, and it has shown up against some of the big-time receivers that he has faced. Go as far back as last week, and you see a guy that rises up to the occasion to play against good receivers. Antonio has a great challenge ahead of him, so he has to play his best game."

Haden was the seventh pick of the 2010 draft out of Florida, while Brown was the 195th pick that year out of Central Michigan.

As Mike Tomlin likes to say, it doesn't matter how you got here, what matters is you're here. And both are playing at All-Pro levels.

"He's a really good talent," Haden said of Brown. "He is fast, quick and he has really good hands. He runs really good routes. He is different than other receivers I've gone up against, because he is a lot smaller and a lot quicker. That's one thing he does really well, just being really quick and running really good routes."

HORTON HEARS A WHO

Haden also has respect for his new coordinator, Ray Horton, who coached defensive backs in Pittsburgh from 2004 through 2010. In his first year as defensive coordinator in Cleveland, the Browns are the fourth-ranked defense in the NFL.

"It's really cool playing under him. He's a really good coach," Haden said. "He knows exactly what he's talking about. He is very realistic in what he asks his players to do. He likes our input. He likes to hear what defenses we like to call. If we don't feel comfortable with it, he pulls it out. He is a player's coach, and we like that a whole lot."

Does Horton talk about his days in Pittsburgh?

"No," Haden said. "You wouldn't even know he coached there if you didn't know his history." Horton runs a 3-4 in Cleveland that's "very similar" to the one Dick LeBeau runs in Pittsburgh, according to Browns Coach Rob Chudzinski.

"The scheme has stood the test of time," Chudzinski said. "Both Ray and Dick are outstanding coaches, but each one of them has their own little wrinkles and personality in how they put the defense together and how they call it. It'll be interesting, and that will be certainly something in the game that will be fun to watch."

WORILDS FOR WOODLEY?

Left outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley is questionable for today's game with a calf injury. If he can't play, Jason Worilds will slide over to the side he played in college, and the side on which he's more comfortable. Rookie Jarvis Jones would have the blind side to himself.

"Jason has been real productive on both sides," said LeBeau. "The big sack that he had that was almost a safety was on the right side. Jason has got good speed and a good burst and he can play on both sides. He had to play on both sides last year, and being our swing outside linebacker he played almost the whole season, some left and some right. I think he's pretty much at home on both sides of the ball."

Worilds has four sacks and trails Woodley by only one for the team lead. Worilds has 14 career sacks in a four-year career that's included only 16 starts. Worilds leads Woodley in QB pressures this season, 15-14.

BUG BOY UP

Haley was asked whether he makes alternate plans when bad weather is forecast.

"I learned this a long time ago from Coach Bill Parcells, you better always have a four-minute/bad weather plan, because you never know what you are going to get," Haley said. "Going to Cleveland, you never know what you are going to get. Some of the no-huddle conversations revolve around some of that. We have a great mudder, so to speak, in Ben (Roethlisberger), who likes to play and executes well in bad weather, which you are really happy to have. At the same time, conditions could get to the point where you better have a plan that involves a lot of big people."

Big people?

"If you have to get into that slug it out," Haley said, "you put 10 big guys in there and pound it up inside. You saw that in the Chicago and Baltimore game last week. When the weather gets to a point, it's going to be hard to execute with the ball in the air much."


Steel City Insider Top Stories