Joe Haden out, JuJu Smith-Schuster in for Steelers against Patriots
The return of cornerback Joe Haden will wait another week. Haden (broken fibula) resumed practicing on a limited basis this week but missed his fifth game in a row Sunday.
Receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (hamstring) was active against the Patriots after being limited in practice and listed as questionable. Cornerback Coty Sensabaugh (shoulder) was also active after sitting out practices this week. Tight end Vance McDonald (shoulder) was ruled out Friday.
Inside linebacker Tyler Matakevich returned after missing last Sunday’s game against Baltimore with a shoulder injury. James Harrison also was in uniform, but he did not play.
The Steelers chose Sean Spence and Cameron Sutton to start at left inside linebacker and left cornerback, respectively.
Spence made his second consecutive start since being signed as a free agent to replace Shazier on the roster. The Steelers used creative defensive personnel packages, but Spence played ahead of Matakevich in the base defense, with L.J. Fort playing in his place on passing downs.
Sutton made his first career start, the rookie third-round pick taking Haden’s usual spot. Sutton spent the first 10 games of the season on injured reserve, then dressed for a game but did not play. The past two weeks, he replaced Sensabaugh as the game progressed. Against New England, the Steelers exclusively stuck with Sutton at left cornerback.