Can Isaac Redman Shoulder The Load For The Steelers' Running Game in 2012?
Saturday, May 19, 2012
by Adam Parker
It's a question that is undoubtedly lingering in the back of every member of Steeler Nation; like those pesky cobwebs in the corners of your basement.
Can Isaac Redman be 'The Guy' to carry the bulk of the duties for the Steelers' running game in 2012?
He's going to have to be.
Incumbent starter Rashard Mendenhall is likely to begin the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list while recovering from surgery in January on a torn ACL.
The 6'0" 230 lb. bruising back out of NCAA Division II Bowie State University went undrafted in 2009, after leaving as the school's all-time rushing leader with 3,300 yards. His professional career in the NFL has been a whirlwind of uncertainty. Time and again, at least in the early portion of his pro career, he was signed and cut and re-signed again by the Steelers more times than I'd like to count.
And yet, on January 6, 2010, Redman earned his way onto the 53-man roster and has since become a pivotal piece in the Steelers' rushing attack.
On September 7, 2010, head coach Mike Tomlin made Redman the team's goal line and short-yardage specialist, a role the team had struggled to fill in recent seasons.
Redman finished the 2010 season with 247 yards on 52 carries with a 4.8 yards per carry average. However, he didn't reach pay-dirt.
It would be over a year later, on September 18, 2011, that Redman would score his first pro touchdown.
Redman finished with three touchdowns last season, along with 479 yards rushing on 110 attempts, and a 4.4 yards per carry average.
'Red Zone' Redman, as he's been affectionately dubbed, has been primarily a 'change of pace' back-up until now, though he has seen some time as the starter.
As you can see by the stats above, when given more touches, Redman delivered more yardage. In fact, with a little over twice as many carries in 2011, Redman almost doubled his production. However, before I'm willing to knight 'Sir' Isaac Redman, he needs to prove two things: one -- that his production won't take a dip with more playing time; and two -- that his two fumbles last year on 104 carries were a fluke and not a pattern.
After all, ball security, above all else, should be of the utmost importance for a guy auditioning to be a feature back for an NFL team.
It's all up to Redman now.
The 2012 season could be huge for him. If he fails, the Steelers will have to look to youngsters Jonathan Dwyer, Baron Batch and John Clay to fill the void. Not only that, and more importantly for Redman -- he could lose any chance he has of ever being a 'factor back' in the NFL for any team, not just Pittsburgh.
But should he succeed and exceed expectations, well, Redman might usurp Mendenhall for the starting job even if 'Mendy' does come back with a clean bill of health.
All eyes will be on the Steelers' backfield in 2012. Can the former undrafted free agent use that motivation to punish opposing defenses and elevate his career to the next level?
We're looking forward to finding out.