Joe Haden Out Testing Shoulder Early, Big Key Today


The Cleveland Browns have been eliminated from NFL Playoff contention but still have two important games in front of them. Joe Haden is a big component of those games. He hurt his shoulder early last week and didn’t return and is questionable for today. Good news is that he is already, as of around 9:30 AM, out on the field this morning:

Fowler’s report is exciting for Browns fans as Haden is key today. The Carolina Panthers may have a limited receiving corp but Kelvin Benjamin is a handful. The 6’5″ 240 pound receiver out of Florida State is hard for any corner to cover. He has the size, speed, strength and body control to make life a nightmare on Sundays.

He has 67 receptions, 952 yards and 9 touchdowns on the season. If it weren’t for amazing seasons by Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr and Sammy Watkins his accomplishments would be getting more air time. As it is he has been impressive. Possibly most impressive is that he hasn’t hit the rookie wall like many do, he had 8 catches for 107 yards last week.

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For the Browns that makes Haden that much more important. If Haden couldn’t go it would put the responsibility of handling Benjamin to little Buster Skrine or rookie Justin Gilbert, who is coming on but has had a difficult season. Haden’s strength, use of leverage, jumping ability and football IQ should help him keep Benjamin down a bit. Speedy players are a bit more difficult for All Pro Joe.

Besides Benjamin, Greg Olsen is the only other receiving threat on the Panthers. He has 81 catches, 960 yards and 6 TDs. The Browns will likely use a variety of coverages to deal with Olsen. Jerricho Cotchery is the only other player to have more than 21 receptions for the Panthers.

Today’s game could be a grind it out type of game. Cam Newton is recovering from back issues following his car accident and the Browns will want to protect Johnny Manziel better than last week. Joe Haden will be key to stopping the Panthers passing game.

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What do you think about Joe Haden being out on the field this early before a game?