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.
Richland's Pecora is one of two local wrestlers in state finals
It has never been easy for Nico Pecora to just be himself on the wrestling mat.
He’s always been the son of legendary Pitt-Johnstown coach Pat Pecora. And the younger brother of standout Marco Pecora.
Bengals make low offer to Hawkins
Johnstown’s Andrew Hawkins grew up with the Cincinnati Bengals while following his older brother Artrell Hawkins Jr.’s NFL career.
The younger Hawkins could see himself wearing a Bengals uniform and playing wide receiver in Cincinnati for years to come. But the Bishop McCort High School graduate knows the business side of the NFL sometimes gets in the way of the storybook ending.
Second place little consolation to contenders
Perspective can be a tricky thing in athletics.
Just ask Richland’s Nico Pecora and Bedford’s Jon Gabriel.
Max Murin won the first 36 matches of his varsity career.
But the Central Cambria freshman was disappointed after he dropped two consecutive bouts on Friday night at the PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championships.
Berlin girls avenge earlier loss to Portage
Berlin Brothersvalley was highly motivated to play Portage on Saturday in their PIAA Class A girls’ first-round basketball matchup at Central Cambria High School.
The Mountaineers, who lost at Portage earlier in the season, held the Mustangs to a single basket in the first half on 1 of 21 shooting Saturday and went on to a 59-42 victory.
Shade girls nip Bishop Carroll
Alexis Meck isn’t the first name that comes to mind when the Shade girls’ basketball team is the topic.
On Saturday, her name was the last in the scorebook as the Panthers edged Bishop Carroll 56-54 in a PIAA Class A first-round game at Pitt-Johnstown’s Sports Center.
Conemaugh Township eliminated
After weathering Summit Academy’s first-half dominance and using the third quarter as a springboard to their first lead of Saturday’s PIAA Class AA boys first-round game, it appeared that District 5 champion Conemaugh Township had solved the Knights.
At the very least, the Indians had frustrated them.
Quaker Valley trips Richland in OT
There were just two shots taken in the overtime on Saturday in the first-round PIAA Class AA boys’ basketball game between Quaker Valley and Richland.
The Quakers had both shots including the game-winner by Winter Fondi with time winding down in a 42-40 victory over the Rams in a nailbiter.
Tomahawks drop key decision
Just two weeks ago, the Johnstown Tomahawks had earned points in five straight games, with four victories during that span.
Not so long ago, Johnstown had moved into a tie for second place in the NAHL North Division.
Pitt slips past Clemson in OT
Lamar Patterson had a career-high 30 points, including a 3-pointer with 3 seconds left, as Pittsburgh overcome a five-point deficit in the final seconds of regulation and beat Clemson 83-78 in overtime Saturday.
Patterson’s 3 with 3 seconds left cut the Tigers’ lead to 67-65.
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