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Regardless of the down, Redman is ready for role

| Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Steelers running back Issac Redman breaks off a run during practice at St. Vincent College Aug. 1, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review
Steelers running back Issac Redman catches a pass during practice at St. Vincent College Aug. 1, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review
Steelers running back Issac Redman breaks off a run during practice at St. Vincent College July 31, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review
Steelers running back Issac Redman catches a pass out of the back field during practice at St. Vincent College Aug. 1, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review

Isaac Redman knows what is expected of him this year.

With Rashard Mendenhall likely out a couple more months while recovering from offseason knee surgery, and not very much in the way of experience behind him, Redman is going to be responsible for the majority of the yards in the running game.

Apparently, it's not going to stop there for Redman: He is going to be the Steelers' top third-down back as well.

“Absolutely,” running back coach Kirby Wilson said.

But Wilson must not have gotten around to telling Redman.

“Kirb said that?” Redman said. “It's news to me, but I have always done well there.”

Redman was on the field for the majority of the Steelers' third downs last year. He doubled the third-down snaps of Mewelde Moore, who is now in Indianapolis.

Redman had 13 carries for 52 yards and seven catches on third down last year, but his biggest accomplishments came on third-and-short. He converted 10 of 11 into first downs, including his first 10.

Redman said he believes he will have plenty of help from his teammates.

“We have a lot of running backs, so who says that I will be in there the entire time plus third downs,” Redman said. “We have a lot of guys who are capable.”

But what has the Steelers wanting Redman on the field on third downs is his blocking ability: He is the team's best third-down blocker.

“He is one of our best pass protectors. He can catch the ball, and he is an outstanding runner,” Wilson said. “He is a very smart, football smart, intelligent player. We really feel that we have a good package with him.”

But being a successful third-down back is more than picking up a blitz. It's about knowing where the blitz is coming from, and few do that better than Redman.

“You also need to be able to read a defense and see where the blitz is coming from,” Redman said.

Backups Jonathan Dwyer, John Clay, Baron Batch and Chris Rainey have a combined 35 career attempts and 10 total games played, so the brunt of the responsibility figures to fall on Redman.

“You want to be on the field as much as possible, especially when a team trusts you. You don't want to put yourself on the sidelines and say that you are only a first- or second-down back,” Redman said. “The more you can do, the longer they can keep you around.”

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at mkaboly@tribweb.com.

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