Three summers ago, Isaac Redman entered Steelers training camp St. Vincents as an after thought. Redman left Latrobe as one of Steeler’s Nation’s cult heroes.
To fully grasp of the enormity of that feat, consider the depth chart he was up against:
- Willie Parker author of the longest run from scrimmage in Super Bowl history
- Rashard Mendenhall, first round pick from the Steelers 2008 Draft
- Mewelde Moore, one of the unsung heroes of the Steelers 2008 season and Super Bowl XLIII
- Frank Summers, aka Frank “The Tank” Summers, a perhaps the most ballyhooed fifth round draft pick in Steelers history
- Carey Davis, nobody’s world beater, but someone the coaches liked enough to phase out legendary unrestricted rookie free agent Dan Kreider
Redman also had to contend with Stefan Logan, whose CFL exploits earned him the nick name “Joy Stick.”
Yes, he deck was stacked against Isaac Redman. But he succeeded.
Never Underestimate Those 4th Quarters of Preseason Games
Faithful Steel Curtain Rising readers know that yours truly misses preseason (they don’t show preseason games in Buenos Aires, Argentina). One reason is that during the much bemoaned 4th quarter of preseason games, you absolutely know that the guys on the field are playing giving ounce they have to give.
Such was the case with Isaac Redman when he scored not once, but twice vs. the Arizona Cardinals in the Steelers first preseason game.
- Playing well in preseason when you get your shot in the 4th quarter vs. jobbers is one thing. Doing it against hardened starters remains a different question.
Never one to let rookies dazzle him, Mike Tomlin had a bigger test for Redman in mind….
The Goal Line Drill
…NFL training camp isn’t what it used to be. In Tom Landry, Don Shula and Chuck Noll’s heyday two-a-days were standard operating procedure, full contact drills the norm and not the exception, and players were often forbidden to drink water between activities.
As salaries have risen, NFL owners and coaches have become gun shy about risking injuring their stars in training camp.
- But at least one exception remains — the goal line drill.
Mike Tomlin wasted little time testing HE Isaac Redman of the preseason glory, against likes of James Harrison, Aaron Smith, and James Farrior.
Redman embraced the challenge with relish. Now such attitude is common place among unknown rookies – results are an entirely different thing (click here a priceless story a rookie who spent his 15 Minutes of Fame challenging Jack Lambert in the summer of ’78 at Latrobe.)
- Redman delivered results scored in goal line drills.
However, he struggled in the Steelers next two preseason contests vs. Washington and the Bills, but came back to score a touchdown vs. the Panthers in the preseason finale.
It didn’t matter. The Steelers cut “RedZone Redman” and put him on the practice squad. In fact the Steelers signed and released Redman several times in 2009.
Pundits in the press suggested that the fact that no other NFL team took Redman showed he was expendable. (Never mind that NFL personnel men had made the same mistake with James Harrison….)
From Cult Hero to Tireless Gamer
Redman earned a roster spot in 2010 and saw spot duty through out the year, the highlight of which included Redman’s willing himself into the end zone for the go ahead touchdown vs. Baltimore.
Isaac Redman’s took over the primary back up rolle in 2011 and while he lacked the speed or raw talent of a Rashard Mendenhall, Redman showed himself to be a bruiser, whose legs never stopped moving until the whistle.
When Mendenhall tore his ACL in the season finale vs. Cleveland, Redman delivered, as he did again in the Tebowing the Steelers suffered in Denver.
- By the end of 2011 Redman had clearly established he was a legitimate NFL running back.
Rougher sailing lay in wait for Redman in 2012, as injures hampered his effectiveness in the game first six weeks, but he exploded for 147 yards vs. the New York Giants.
He never returned to that level during the rest of the year, but he excelled in 3rd and 4th and short occasions and was easily the most consistent back of the year.
Steelers Need to Reup Redman
Isaac Redman is a restricted free agent, but because the he was undrafted, the Steelers only retain the right of first refusal if they offer him the lowest tender. Indications are that the Steelers may do just that due to salary cap restraints.
- Regardless of how he does it, the Kevin Colbert needs to ensure that Isaac Redman is a Pittsburgh Steeler in 2013
It also says here that reports that the Steelers will give Redman a low-ball tender should be taken with a grain of salt, especially if they follow through on rumors not to tender Jonathan Dwyer at all.
- Would the Steelers brass really commit themselves to matching any offer a team threw at Redman Doubtfully.
Like fellow restricted free agent Emmanuel Sanders, if the Steelers can find salary cap space to make it work, they’d be wise to ink Isaac Redman to a long term deal.
Thanks for visiting. Click here for the rest of Steel Curtain Rising or here to see our Steelers 2013 Free Agent Focus.