BEREA — Several national NFL analysts have started to refer to Joe Haden as "Haden Island" in reference to the long held nickname of Buccaneer's and former Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, known as "Revis Island".
If Haden continues to play the way he has, he might end up in the Hawaiian Islands after this season as a member of the Pro Bowl team, but he doesn't want to talk about that now.
"I try not to think about it after the first Pro Bowl talk," Haden said. "If it happens, it happens. I definitely want it to happen but I want our team to win some games along the way. Right now, I want our team to beat the Steelers and keep winning games. I don't really want to talk about (making the Pro Bowl), but it's a goal. I just want to come out every week and put my best foot forward and play the best I can."
Last year's AFC Pro Bowl cornerbacks were Champ Bailey, Johnathan Joseph and Antonio Cromartie, while the NFC was represented by Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings and Patrick Peterson. However, Haden said he hasn't been keeping tabs on the other cornerbacks.
"I haven't really had a chance to look at too many of the other corners, but I feel like I'm really playing at a high level."
Haden is coming off the best game of his career. He not only had two interceptions, including one 29-yard return for a touchdown, but he held Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green to just two receptions for seven yards.
"Definitely (it was)," he said. "I never had two (interceptions) in a game or a (pick) six."
Haden said he gave the first ball that he intercepted to a fan in the stands wearing a Haden jersey. He said he took the interception returned for the touchdown home.
Haden said that Green congratulated him for his play.
"During the game out (on the field), (Green) said 'Good work out there'."
Defensive coordinator Ray Horton said he wasn't surprised with Haden's breakout game against the Bengals.
"Obviously, he had an exceptional game," Horton said. "A.J. (Green) was held to I think his lowest total as a professional, I think. He provided big plays for us. And Joe played just as he has most of the year. He’s played exceptional. You’d have to really look with a fine-toothed comb to pick out things he’s not doing well. He’s playing exceptional for us. “
Haden said he is not going to let his standout game against the Bengals cause him to stumble this week.
"No, it's just the same things," he said. "I just want to get that one out of my head and move on to Pittsburgh. I'm trying to work hard and prepare the same way to try and do the same thing."
Josh Gordon goes up against Haden every day in practice and knows why Haden is playing at an elite level.
"He has a great football I.Q.," Gordon said. "He can read wide receivers."
The Steelers have taken notice of Haden's play.
"I don't think any corner is playing better, that we have faced," Steeler's coach Mike Tomlin said in a conference call. "He's playing good and is a very talented player who's experience is catching up with talent."
Ben Roethlisberger said his job is to keep the ball out of Haden's hands.
"He's playing great," Roethlisberger said. "I have a lot of respect for him. He might be playing the best of any cornerback we've seen this year."
Haden has done a tremendous job thus far in limiting his opposing receiver thus far this season. Haden usually draws the opponent's top receiver throughout the game. Through 10 games, he has not allowed a 100-yard game to a receiver this year. Ravens' Torrey Smith caught seven passes for 85 in the first meeting and caught five for 78 yards in the second game. He held Calvin Johnson to just three catches for 25 yards, although he was slowed with an ankle injury. Green had seven receptions for 51 yards in the first game and two for seven yards last week. Mike Wallace caught just one pass for 15 yards, while Greg Jennings had three catches for 43 yards. Dwayne Bowe was held to one catch for seven yards, while Stevie Johnson had two receptions for 19 yards. Jordy Nelson had five catches for 43 yards, including a touchdown. Nelson's one-yard score was the only touchdown Haden has given up this season.
"(Horton) is doing a great job of putting Haden in position to make plays," Tomlin said.
This week's opponent is Antonio Brown, who has 74 receptions for 952 yards (12.9 avg.) with five touchdowns.
"He runs really good routes and he's right up there (with the top receivers)," Haden said.
On the season, Haden has 41 tackles with three interceptions and 14 passes broken up. Haden had six interceptions as a rookie and three in 2012.
A lot has changed for Haden in the past year. He was suspended for four of the first five games of the 2012 season for substance abuse. The Browns lost all four of the games during Haden's suspension.
"The main thing, honestly, when I got suspended that really slowed me down and made me settle down," Haden said. "The whole suspension thing got me to where I am now."
Haden also got married prior to the 2013 season and Horton thinks that helped Haden, as well.
“Marriage will do that," Horton said. "I hope marriage will do that. You know, he got married this year. I think that’s part of your maturation process. You get married and you have another responsibility, and that really ties into having responsibility with your teammates. Yeah, I think so. I think the home life really does settle players down."
Horton recently said that he prods Haden often by comparing him to former pupil and Pro Bowl cornerback, Patrick Peterson.
"(Horton) means a lot (to me)," Haden said. "He's different than any other coach I've ever had. He doesn't talk to much other than smart remarks about not doing what I'm supposed to be doing. He mostly lets me be me."
Horton said Haden has been more than he envisioned when he joined the Browns.
"So, yeah, (Haden's) been a pleasant surprise for me," Horton said. "And I do remember him as a rookie coming out, so he embodies everything you want in a young corner. He’s athletic, he’s smart, he’s tough, and he’s a very good person on top of that.”
Bright Spot: WR Josh Gordon was one of the few bright spots last week in the 41-20 loss to the Bengals. Gordon caught five passes for 125 yards, including a 74-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Last week, against the Steelers, WR Calvin Johnson caught six passes for 179 yards, including two touchdowns. One of the scores was from 79 yards. Gordon has noticed and hopes for some opportunities.
"There's definitely some opportunities," Gordon said. "You can see where (Johnson) exploited them."
Gordon has caught 40 passes for 751 yards (18.8 avg.), including four touchdowns, despite missing the first two games while serving a suspension.
At his current pace, Gordon will go well over 1,000 yards for the season.
"As far as personal goals, that's something I definitely want to accomplish," he said. "If I happened to have 999 yards and if we have a winning season (that would be better)."
Gordon admitted that 1,000 yards is the cut off for elite receivers, but Gordon still said he's more interested in team goals.
"(1000 yards) seems to be the benchmark," Gordon said. "More so, than individual goals, teams goals are more meaningful."
Campbell's Chance: QB Jason Campbell was able to be the starting quarterback when the Browns beat QB Joe Flacco and the Ravens on Nov. 3. Flacco had never lost to the Browns in his career and came in with an 11-0 record. QB Ben Roethhlisberger comes into this week with a 15-1 record against the Browns. Campbell will try to put back-to-back losses on Flacco and Roethlisberger and more importantly the Ravens and the Steelers in the same season. Overall, the Browns are just 2-26 going up against those two division rival quarterbacks.
Jackson was asked about Roethlisberger's record against the Browns and his success with the Steelers, including two Super Bowls.
"It's hard to believe," he said. "He's had a great career. Big Ben has had a lot to do with their success."
Injury Update: LB Craig Robertson (knee) and TE MarQueis Gray (hamstring) did not practice Thursday. DL Armonty Bryant (back) returned to practice and OL Mitchell Schwartz (toe) was limited, while RB Willis McGahee (knee), P Spencer Lanning (knee), RB Fozzy Whittaker (ankle), LB Paul Kruger (finger) and OL Jason Pinkston (ankle) were full participants. For the Steelers: DL Brett Keisel (foot) and S Shamarko Thomas (ankle) did not practice and LB LaMarr Woodley (calf) was limited.
Benjamin Sighting: WR/PR Travis Benjamin was in the locker room on crutches. He had surgery to repair his torn ACL last week.