Isaac Redman could do the math.
Nearing final cuts on Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers fifth-year running back looked at the crowded depth chart and figured somebody’s feelings were going to get hurt.
“I know that somebody had to go,” Redman said. “After being around here for a while, you understand how it goes, and I knew somebody had to go this year.”
And despite missing the final two games of the preseason while recovering from a neck injury, it wasn’t Redman.
Instead, the Steelers cut Jonathan Dwyer – the team’s leading rusher in 2012 – and handed Redman the starting job for the season opener against Tennessee on Sunday while second-round pick Le’Veon Bell works his way back from a sprained right foot.
“We know what Isaac is capable of,” coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday. “He’s answered the bell for us in the past and we expect him to do it in a big way moving forward starting this weekend.”
When healthy, Redman can be a force. He ran for 410 yards and two scores last year and played well in a 26-23 loss to the Titans, catching four passes for 105 yards. Ankle problems, however, kept Redman from establishing himself as the starter. He rumbled for 147 yards a touchdown in a victory over the New York Giants – the high water mark of an 8-8 season – but went right back to the sidelines after getting knicked up again.
Redman slimmed down to 230 pounds over the winter, believing more quickness would also make him more durable. That part remains to be seen. Redman sustained a stinger during training camp and carried the ball two times during the entire preseason.
Though Tomlin insists Redman will be “spelled” by newly acquired Felix Jones and third-down specialist LaRod Stephens-Howling, Redman thinks a steady dose of carries will help him get into a rhythm.
“The games that I’ve been able to stay in the whole entire game, I’ve done very well,” he said. “It’s just, well, I’m not going to make an excuse. But it’s hard to carry the ball twice, maybe two series, then Dwyer go in for two series.”
That won’t be an issue anymore after the Steelers cut the only running back who managed to stay out of the trainer’s room during August. Yet Dwyer’s weight fluctuations and questionable conditioning apparently made him expendable. Tomlin declined to elaborate on the decision to release Dwyer, instead pointing to the drafting of Bell and the additions of Jones and Stephens-Howling.
“We like the guys that we kept and really our focus is on those guys,” he said.
Even if Bell will not be one of “those guys” on Sunday. While Bell is out of a walking boot after injuring the foot in a preseason loss to Washington last month, Tomlin ruled Bell out this weekend and remained vague about any real timetable for the rookie’s return.
“Young guys like him have to practice in order to be able to participate,” Tomlin said. “At the very best, he would be a partial participant this week.”
The same goes for veteran tight end Heath Miller. The two-time Pro Bowler was activated off the Physically Unable to Perform List over the weekend but Tomlin wants to see how Miller’s body responds to the increased workload before making any sort of decision on Miller’s availability.
While Bell and Miller are questionable, rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones appears ready to make his NFL debut. Jones sat out last week’s preseason finale with a bruised chest but the first-round pick will see plenty of time backing up Jason Worilds and LaMarr Woodley.
Tomlin remains concerned about the special teams, a weakness during Pittsburgh’s winless exhibition season. Neither incumbent Drew Butler or three-time Pro Bowler Brian Moorman distinguished themselves and while Butler survived the final cuts, the victory was short lived when the Steelers signed former New England Patriot punter Zoltan Mesko on Monday.
“He is a high-pedigree guy, one that was highly regarded out of Michigan, a fifth-round pick,” Tomlin said. “He’s a long guy, a left-footer. He is no stranger to the elements, having kicked in New England in the professional ranks and at the University of Michigan in college ... All those things were attractive to us.”
Isaac Redman could do the math.
Keisel returning to action for Sunday’s game
Brett Keisel is in his 12th season with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the 35-year-old defensive end realizes it might also be his last.
If he’s on his way out, at least he’ll get a chance to do it on the field.
Steelers Brown closing in on records
The memory has never really gone away. It’s still in the back of Antonio Brown’s mind, gnawing at him during the long workouts, the ones he doesn’t talk about and his teammates only mention in somewhat reverent tones.
Six rounds. Nearly 200 players. How was it possible for 194 other players to be taken ahead of him in the 2010 NFL Draft? Even now, in the midst of the breakout season he always believed would come, the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver doesn’t want to think about it.
Penguins beat Wild for sixth straight win
Chris Kunitz scored his 19th goal, Sidney Crosby had two assists and the Pittsburgh Penguins jumped out to a four-goal lead before beating the Minnesota Wild 5-2 Thursday night for their season-high sixth straight victory.
Rookie defenseman Olli Maatta sealed the Penguins’ win when he scored on a third-period penalty shot. Pascal Dupuis and Brandon Sutter each scored for the second consecutive game, and defenseman Matt Niskanen also tallied for Pittsburgh, which has won 11 of 12 overall and a nine straight home game.
- Penguins skate past Rangers in shootout win
- Bell enjoying productive season
- Woodley placed on IR list
- Hawkins, Bengals remain optimistic
- Steelers looking like old selves in triumph
- Crosby’s goal lifts Penguins
Steelers lead all the way in win over Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals lost their grip on the ball. Then they lost their grip on the game.
Their coronation as the new power in the AFC North is going to have to wait at least one more week.
- More Pro Headlines
- Keisel returning to action for Sunday’s game