Share This Page

Steelers' Redman is ready for the spotlight

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."

There was a time when Tomlin said little to Redman, and it came during his first training camp in 2009.

Redman signed with the Steelers out of Bowie State, a Division II school in Maryland. Tomlin called him "Barlow" in a nod to Kevan Barlow, who had worn No. 33 during a short stint with the Steelers prior to Redman's arrival. He also jabbed at Redman for showing up at camp out of shape.

Redman staged a coming-out party during the goal-line drill, scoring three times from the 1-yard line against the first-team defense. He carried four more times, per orders from Tomlin.

Redman received seven of the eight carries during the only camp drill that features live hitting, and he scored five times.

"He didn't call me by my name one time through whole camp," Redman said of Tomlin. "I was like, 'Man, maybe Coach Tomlin will call me Redman after this.' "

He didn't, but other Steelers took notice of Redman.

That included Casey Hampton, who admittedly knew almost nothing about Redman before the goal-line drill.

"He was a beast," Hampton said. "I don't expect nothing but greatness from him from these next few games we've got. I'm not worried about him at all. One guy ain't going to bring him down. That's the kind of back you want fighting for you all of the time."

Wide receiver Mike Wallace agreed.

"I can't even tell you the things guys are saying out there on the field," Wallace said. "They get pretty mad when he runs over all these people. They be cursing all the time."

Such salty language is one measure of how far Redman has risen since joining the Steelers as an unheralded rookie and spending most of 2009 on their practice squad.

Now that he has become a starter, Redman has dual pursuits.

"Hopefully you'll see a running back that's capable of being a No. 1 running back in this league," he said, "and capable of helping a team go to the Super Bowl."

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.