This is the time when we get to see what Isaac Redman can really do. The job from here on out, for as long as the Steelers last in the postseason, is his. He is the man that will carry the load on the ground as the primary ‘back in Bruce Arians offense. He’s shown flashes in limited action for the last 2 years and with 92 yds. last Sunday and 1 TD he is poised to take over again this weekend against the Broncos. With a less than healthy Ben Roethlisberger, a solid ground game will go a long way to slowing down the pass rush and keeping the Steelers offense on the field and Big Ben’s jersey clean.
One of the more compelling success stories in a locker room filled with them once spent an entire day carrying around a football. It was atonement for fumbling in a game.
It didn’t happen this week at the Steelers’ practice facility, but years ago in Paulsboro, N.J., a Philadelphia suburb where Isaac Redman excelled in football and wrestling at a school that excels in both sports.
“My coach made me do that,” Redman said of legendary Paulsboro High coach Glenn Howard. “I don’t know what it was supposed to do. It was sitting on my desk in class. It was barely in my hands.”
The ball will be in Redman’s hands plenty during the playoffs, starting Sunday when the Steelers visit Denver for an AFC wild-card game.
Rashard Mendenhall’s season-ending knee injury has thrust Redman into the starting lineup, and the former undrafted free agent is the only healthy running back with significant NFL experience on the roster.
The bruising Redman averaged 4.4 yards per carry this season and converted nine of the 11 times he got the ball on third-and-2 or less. The 6-foot, 230-pounder is adept enough at picking up blitzing linebackers that he will serve as the Steelers’ third-down back, as well as their featured runner.
“I’d be lying if I say I’m fine being a backup my whole career,” said Redman, who rushed for 479 yards and three touchdowns this season. “Any chance I get I want to showcase my talent, and hopefully somebody here or wherever looks at me and says, ‘Man, that guy is capable of being a No. 1 back in this league.’ ”
That self-assuredness is one reason why no one in the Steelers’ locker room is worried that Redman lost two fumbles last Sunday in Cleveland. Coach Mike Tomlin apparently hasn’t lost any sleep over the turnovers, either — or what they may portend.
“Actually, Coach Tomlin hasn’t said anything to me about it,” Redman said. “They understand that it’s not like it’s been an ongoing problem.”