Inside the ropes: Joe Haden tested in return to Steelers practice

August 22, 2018

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger just squeezes the ball past cornerback Artie Burns to JuJu Smith-Shuster during practice Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018 at Saint Vincent College.

After sitting out the Pittsburgh Steelers’ preseason opener with a minor injury, veteran cornerback Joe Haden returned to practice Saturday afternoon and was put to the test in a matchup against the team’s top wide receivers.

In the first 11-on-11 drill that followed the “Seven Shots” 2-point simulation, the wide receivers and defensive backs were pitted against each other inside the red zone.

The receivers ran 10-yard patterns to the left corner of the end zone while facing single coverage. On his first pairing, Haden went against Antonio Brown, who was practicing for the first time in about 10 days. Brown used a double move that froze Haden, who broke to the sideline while the All-Pro receiver went to the back of the end zone and pulled in the touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger.

JuJu Smith-Schuster also got the better of Haden after the ball was moved back to the 20, making an over-the-shoulder catch in the back corner. Smith-Schuster also scored against Artie Burns, coming down with the ball as he fell out of the end zone.

Marcus Tucker had a nice catch when he reached back and grabbed the pass with Mike Hilton in coverage.

First-round pick Terrell Edmunds scored a win for the defense when he broke up a Roethlisberger pass for Justin Hunter.

Hunter had two touchdown catches after the ball was moved back to the 20. He landed on his back but kept his feet in the end zone on the first reception. On the other, he made a back shoulder catch from Landry Jones with Hilton in coverage.

• The offense scored a 4-3 victory in “Seven Shots.” Roethlisberger was 2 for 4, opening with scoring passes to James Conner and Smith-Schuster. Roethlisberger’s third attempt was tipped. On his final throw, he yelled, “My bad, my bad,” after throwing the ball behind Brown and out of reach.

• Rudolph replaced Roethlisberger for the final three shots. He had completions to James Washington and Tucker. His incompletion was on a fade to Washington.

• Rudolph and Josh Dobbs were given a chance to run the practice-ending two-minute offense drill. Rudolph opened with a long completion to Smith-Schuster. His second pass, however, was tipped by Darrius Heyward-Bey, and the ball dropped into the arms of cornerback Burns for an interception. Dobbs ran six plays in his two-minute session, but facing a fourth-and-10, his pass to Tucker was batted down.

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