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Entering 11th Season, Joe Haden Still Bringing Energy to Steelers Defense

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It’s not necessarily typical for an 11-year veteran to be one of the most high-energy players on a football team, but in 2020, pretty much nothing has been typical.

So in a way, it sort of fits that veteran Steelers corner Joe Haden has been one of the guys that’s brought the most energy to the Pittsburgh Steelers defense in the early portion of training camp.

In an empty stadium, it’s easy to pick out. It’s also a requirement to bring your own, as the Steelers are adjusting to having camp behind closed doors without fans for the first time in anyone’s memory.

They’re also doing so in the middle of a pandemic that has seemingly thrown a wet blanket over the collective consciousness of the country and has repeatedly threatened the 2020 season itself, something that will likely continue.

For Haden, part of that genuine excitement to be back in pads, on the gridiron with his teammates has come from just getting this far.

“We didn’t play any OTAs. We haven’t had anything. This is the closest we’ve had to anything [normal,” Haden said. “I’ve been playing football now, this is going to be my 11th year, and having training camp this year in the stadium, being able to come in to work every day and being at Heinz Field is just kind of …”

Haden trailed off. It’s a tough to be genuinely excited for anything these days, and the knowledge that what has happened at Heinz Field thus far is a fragile thing is always looming. COVID-19 outbreaks shut down several college football and MLB teams after they got back to playing or practicing in similar circumstances to what the Steelers have done.

“The world is a little off right now,” Haden admitted. “Just being able to get into some normalcy and being able to play the sport that I love and being able to come in and have training camp at Heinz is just a blessing. I’m not taking any of that for granted.”

His teammates don’t seem to be taking it for granted, either, and that’s part of the reason to be excited. With Haden and nine other starters returning from what was already a top-flight defense, the Steelers not only have a chance to play, but to make a significant impact on the field in 2020.

“You have guys that are in their primes or just young guys that just love the game and just want to be great,” Haden said of his secondary mates. “It is coming up on three years that I was released from the Browns, August 30, 2017. Being able to make it back to the Pro Bowl, being able to be on the team with contenders, great players on defense and the defensive line. Just so much talent. I want to be apart of it and I know what it is like to be on the other side. I’m just very excited and just want to continue to bring that energy and play well.”

In addition to supplying the talent, the Steelers will also have to manufacture their own energy this season, as well. It seems likely that few, if any games at Heinz Field will be played with a significant number of fans, meaning that the usual energy provided to the team by the Black and Gold faithful will be lacking. That’s particularly going to impact the Steelers, who are well supported at home and on the road.

“Think of a team that doesn’t have a whole lot of home fan support,” posed Steelers tight end Vance McDonald on Tuesday. “They might be in a popular travel are where they get a lot of fans for the visiting team. They’re at a disadvantage even in their home stadium. You’re just removing all of those variables and moving parts.”

Especially for the Steelers defense, they’re used to their own intimidating presences being amplified by a chorus of 70,000 for home games. Haden and company will have to make up the difference.

“[T.J.] Watt, he is a very energetic, hype and always screaming at each other out there. [Devin] Bush, Mike Hilton talks his trash. Minkah [Fitzpatrick] is very passionate. We have a lot of dudes at the end of the day that are very hyped and just excited and energetic dudes,” Haden said. “While we have been out here for camp, we have just been doing the same things. We can hear each other, we can talk. Everybody can make that communication. It is definitely different.

“We have a lot of passionate players that keep the energy up.”

Steelers

Steelers RB Trey Edmunds Shares Love of Reading with Local Students

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Pittsburgh Steelers running back Trey Edmunds has been a lifelong lover of reading, a passion he shared with local students on Tuesday’s celebration of Read Across America Day.

Edmunds joined students at Pittsburgh Faison for a virtual assembly and read New York Times best seller, What Do You Do With An Idea? by Kobi Yamada.

“I am blessed and humbled to be amongst you guys today and to represent another part of the community and be able to read to you,” Edmunds told Steelers.com. “I am so happy to be here today. What I do want to say is I was in some of the same positions as you guys. I grew up listening to people come back and read to me. Some of those same people I have been in contact with many years later. Some of those same things they have read to me, I have had the privilege of reading to some of the people I mentor, some of the young people in my life, whether it’s cousins, nephews. I am extremely happy today.”

Edmunds also surprised the student with a copy of his own book My Brother’s Keeper – What This Means to Me…, written alongside with his brothers Terrell and Tremaine. Terrell is a safety for Pittsburgh, while Tremaine is a standout linebacker for the Buffalo Bills.

Edmunds’ love of reading came from his mother Felicia, who as an educator, always championed the important of the skill.

“My mother is an elementary school teacher, so she had me doing all of that stuff when I was in high school, college, as a matter of fact I have to go to her school to read for the month of March,” he told Steelers.com. “It keeps me on my toes, attentive. I am a big reader myself, so when I get the opportunity to read to kids, I like that type of interaction.”

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Should Steelers Sign Zach Banner to be Starter in 2021?

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Zach Banner has become a prominent member of the Steelers, but that’s not because he’s had success on the field over the past year. Banner’s success has come off the field by connecting with fans on social media and doing his part to help those in need than he has on a football field. But by no means is that Banner’s fault.

He suffered a season ending torn ACL in Week 1 of the 2020 season. This injury was especially devastating for the USC product because it occurred on the heels of Banner winning the starting right tackle position following a tough training camp battle with Chukwuma Okorafor.

Due to Banner’s injury, it was Okorafor who ended up starting 16 games, including the postseason. While Banner kept in good spirits and became his team’s loudest cheerleader on Twitter during games, it was clear he wanted to be on the field and contributing.

Earning a starting spot as a member of the Steelers offensive line was a major career achievement for Banner, but it was one he didn’t get to enjoy. With Banner expected to be ready for a return next season, should the Steelers sign the 27-year-old with the anticipation that he could be a key piece to bolster the offensive line that was missing during the 2020 season?

Do you believe in Zach Banner? Comment below with why or why not.

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Steelers

Zach Banner Announces Self-imposed Social Media Ban Until he Signs New Deal

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Zach Banner is sending a clear message about his priorities ahead of the 2021 NFL season. Banner, who is a free agent and looking for a new deal with the Steelers, tweeted that he is going to stay off social media until he officially signs on the dotted line.

Zach Banner has become a prominent member of the Steelers, but that’s not because he’s had success on the field over the past year. Banner’s success has come off the field by connecting with fans on social media and doing his part to help those in need than he has on a football field. But by no means is that Banner’s fault. He suffered a season ending torn ACL in Week 1 of the 2020 season. This injury was especially devastating for the USC product because it occurred on the heels of Banner winning the starting right tackle position following a tough training camp battle with Chukwuma Okorafor.

Due to Banner’s injury, it was Okorafor who ended up starting 16 games, including the postseason. While Banner kept in good spirits and became his team’s loudest cheerleader on Twitter during games, it was clear he wanted to be on the field and contributing.

Earning a starting spot as a member of the Steelers offensive line was a major career achievement for Banner, but it was one he didn’t get to enjoy. Banner now hopes to return to Pittsburgh and be the missing piece the Steelers offensive line desperately needs.

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