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Steelers' Isaac Redman ready if called upon

| Friday, Oct. 7, 2011

Running back Isaac Redman is in his third season with the Steelers, and he needs to introduce himself to no one in the team's locker room.

He did so anyway Thursday before practice.

"I'm Isaac Redman. I play for the Pittsburgh Steelers, (I'm) a No. 2 running back that has a chance of starting," Redman said.

The introduction was filled with subtext as thick as one of Redman's thighs. And it reflected his irritation over labels and stereotypes that stem from the circuitous route the 6-foot, 230-pounder took to this point.

Redman, the first player from Division II Bowie State to make the NFL, may soon have a chance to show what he can do with an extended stay in the spotlight.

Starting running back Rashard Mendenhall has yet to practice this week because of a hamstring injury that forced him out of the Steelers' last game.

If Mendenhall is unable to play Sunday against the visiting Tennessee Titans, Redman will make the first start of his career.

Redman is one of the few Steelers that have been on the rise through the first month of this season. But he still remains something of a curiosity to fans that became enamored with him in August of 2009, when the undrafted rookie excelled in a goal-line drill at training camp.

Redman, whose career yards per carry average is a robust 4.8, has never had more than 10 carries in a game.

Redman said he is ready to handle a full load Sunday if Mendenhall can't play.

"I can do it with 30 carries," he said. "I know what I'm capable of doing. It's starting to get on my nerves a little bit that it's shocking to everybody that I'm doing good, but I'm not a sorry running back that got lucky and made the team.

"A lot of people are shocked that I'm doing good, but people that haven't been following me, people that don't know what type of player I am think, 'Oh he came from Bowie State.' They don't know the whole background to everything. I'm not a Division II football player. I'm sick of people saying that I am from a small college."

Redman's uncle, Todd McNair, actually recruited him to Southern Cal when he was an assistant coach for the Trojans.

McNair later told Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians -- he had played for Arians at Temple and in the NFL -- that Redman would have gone to Southern Cal if the southern New Jersey native would have qualified academically.

That came during the same conversation in which McNair recommended to Arians that the Steelers take a look at Redman after he had finished his career at the small school in Maryland.

Arians liked what he saw on tape, and the Steelers signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2009.

Redman made the team last season after a year on the practice squad, and he has produced when he has gotten an opportunity.

"Right now, Isaac's running with a lot of passion, a lot of heart, and hopefully, he just continues doing that and being consistent," Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward said.

Arians admittedly has a soft spot for Redman, but he said Mendenhall is in no danger of losing his job as the Steelers' feature back.

"Red's done a good job with his opportunity, and he hasn't failed us yet," Arians said. "But Rashard's the guy, and everything starts with him. He's the ace."

Mendenhall will likely be a game-time decision Sunday. Even if he is cleared to play, the Steelers will monitor the fourth-year veteran closely, and they may be more inclined to spell him with Redman.

"I don't know what the coaches are thinking," Redman said. "I just know right now (Mendenhall's) hamstring is bothering him pretty bad. Right now, I'm preparing to go. When I get the opportunity to step on the field, I'm always going to perform."

Additional Information:

Around the Steelers

• Center Maurkice Pouncey took exception to the $7,500 fine he received for unnecessary roughness in the Steelers' 17-10 loss to the Houston Texans last Sunday. Pouncey was penalized for a block near the end of a 14-yard run by Moore. The penalty came late in the second quarter and forced the Steelers to attempt a short field goal, which was blocked.Pouncey said his block came 'before the whistle. I'm not changing how I play.'

• Steelers guard Ramon Foster learned his appeal of a $15,000 fine for unnecessary roughness in a preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles has been denied.

• One thing did not fall into place for Max Starks as far as the veteran offensive tackling re-signing with the Steelers: timing. Starks joined the Steelers in time to go through back-to-back padded practices. Per the new collective bargaining agreement, teams are only allowed to have two padded practices in a week once during the season. 'Great planning on my part,' Starks said after his second practice since signing with the Steelers. 'Looking forward to (today) with no pads on.'

• Wide receiver Antonio Brown got an earful from offensive coordinator Bruce Arians when he didn't make a correct read last Sunday. Arians wasn't any more charitable when asked about the short pass pattern that Brown should have run when the Houston Texans blitzed. Brown ran a deeper route, causing Roethlisberger to throw a pass that landed well short of the second-year wideout. 'Antonio missed (a blitz) that Ray Charles should have read,' Arians said. 'It was a true young-guy mistake.'

• Offensive tackle Chris Scott, released when the Steelers signed Starks, cleared waivers and was signed to the team's practice quad. The Steelers released former Franklin Regional and Pitt standout John Malecki to make room on the practice squad for Scott.

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