Can Redmen Carry the Load for the Steelers Run Game?

By AP

They don’t celebrate NFL backups in southern New Jersey. Trust Isaac Redman on this.

When the Pittsburgh Steelers running back returned to his hometown of Paulsboro, N.J., during the offseason after his rookie year in the NFL in 2009, people just kind of shrugged their shoulders.

Three years later, things have changed. The overweight kid from Division II Bowie State who barely made the practice squad during that miserable first season is now the centerpiece for a running attack geared at taking pressure off quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

And the fine folks in Paulsboro know it.

“I get a lot different treatment now when I’m home than I did when I was on the practice squad,” Redman said with a laugh.

Redman is such a celebrity he’s even holding his first football camp at Paulsboro High next month. It’s heady territory for a player who spent his first training camp with the Steelers trying to get coach Mike Tomlin to remember his name.

It wasn’t until Redman beat the first-team defense for a series of touchdowns during a goal line drill that he got Tomlin’s attention, with the coach nicknaming the 6-foot, 230-pound Redman “Red Zone.”

It’s a fond memory of a day that probably saved Redman’s career. Fast-forward to 2012, and Redman’s perseverance has paid off with the opportunity he knew would come eventually.

Redman practiced with the first string during the second day of organized team activities on Wednesday and will get the initial crack at replacing injured starter Rashard Mendenhall, who remains out indefinitely while recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL.

Mendenhall is optimistic he can return at some point this fall, but even he’s not willing to put his recovery on any sort of timeline.

“I’m just focused on getting back 100 percent,” Mendenhall said. “At what point I do that, whenever that is, I don’t know.”

That leaves it up to Redman to lead the backfield as it transitions to new offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s diverse offense.

Haley helped the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl with an offense that featured Kurt Warner at quarterback throwing it to Pro Bowlers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin then took the Kansas City Chiefs to the playoffs with a run-first attack that leaned heavily on Jamaal Charles.

The Chiefs ran for an NFL-high 2,627 yards in 2010, a number the Steelers haven’t reached since going 15-1 in 2001.

While Roethlisberger and his receivers have wrung their hands about how long it will take to master Haley’s playbook, Redman rubbed his hands in glee.

The Steelers evolved into a passing team under former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. The pendulum may be swinging back now.

About the Author

Matt Loede

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association and of course, the National Football League. On NFL Sunday’s you can hear Matt on National networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and other stations around the country. Matt also joined The Washington Post in 2009 as a guest columnist on league hot topics. Born and raised in Cleveland, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.

5 Comments on "Can Redmen Carry the Load for the Steelers Run Game?"

  1. In Arizona and KC, Haley adapted to the talent he had. But the Steelers are so talented, we don’t have to be a passing team or a running team; we can and should be a balanced team – one that can execute in all phases of the game. Redman, Dwyer, and Moore all ran well last year, when given the chance. Our success on the ground will still hinge on the health of the O-line and its ability to execute the blocking assignments. A dominant line can make even an average RB look good.

    I’m delighted that Arians is gone and that Haley is adaptable to his talent. What I don’t understand, however, is why the playbook had to be rewritten, rather than merely tweaked. The old plays were not the problem; Arian’s play calling and our O-line execution were. My concern is that the team will devote the off-season to learning Haley’s new terminology, instead of addressing our problems with basic execution. Fundamentals still win games.

  2. Go Redman!! I am glad he is getting the shot, I like how he follows his blocks and hit the hole. Mendenhall tip toe to much for me when going to the hole and he is to inconsistent for me. One week he will do o.k. and the next he he suck.

  3. WestCoastSteelerFan | May 24, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Reply

    Steelers are deep at the position..its all up to Haley & Tomlin on how they are used, Hopefully much better then Arians could muster up

  4. Grove Nation | May 25, 2012 at 6:24 am | Reply

    Hey man I glad a Jersey native is doing it big. I know you can do I’ve seen you do it against salem in the Goroup I championship game….Ball Hard Man

  5. With mashers like Pouncey and DeCastro blasting open holes it should be a field day for a strong, resilient back like Redman. With a substandard line the guy was still hammering out a 4.6-4.8 yards per carry average. With the revamped line he’ll do even better.

    Am I the only one who thinks Redman reminds one of a young Gerald Riggs?

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