By Matthew Marczi
According to a Tweet today from Dale Lolley, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Isaac Redman said that he could have suited up and played in the last two preseason games, but “was held out by coaches”.
Considering the fact that he was a surprise scratch for both of the two final preseason games after being forced to sit out the second due to a stinger suffered in practice, it should not be too surprising to learn in hindsight that Redman is not as banged up and bruised as he was perceived to be, given that he had just two carries on the opening drive of the first preseason game and missed the next three.
The reality is, however, that head coach Mike Tomlin already clued us in to the fact that Redman would be ready to go were it a regular season game in his pre-game press conference for the preseason finale against the Carolina Panthers. Tomlin elected to list him last, almost as a passing mention, amongst the players who would he held out, citing “precautionary measures” as the reason that he would not be dressing.
He did not stop there, however, adding, “we’ve got a lot of backs that we need to sort through. We know what he’s capable of, so we’re going to look at some of those others, like Stephens-Howling, like Jonathan Dwyer, and of course the newly-acquired Felix Jones”.
He was later asked if Redman would have been dressing for a regular season game where he was at that point, to which Tomlin reiterated, “it’s less about his health and more about needing to see the other guys that I mentioned”. Thus, while he did not outright say that he was healthy, he said just about everything short of that.
After just two carries in the first preseason game, it says a lot about how comfortable Tomlin and the coaching staff is in Redman’s abilities that they gave him the opportunity to rest through the preseason even though he was capable of playing, instead making Dwyer and Jones run the gauntlet in order to fight for the last remaining roster spot at the running back position.
Jim Wexell of Steel City Insider also Tweeted today that Redman confirmed to him he received the first-team reps in practice, which is of course unsurprising other than that is attests to the fact that he is healthy and is set to begin the season as the starter, and has no intention of relinquishing the starting role to rookie second-round draft pick Le’Veon Bell.
Speaking of Bell, Wexell also Tweeted that he intends to try to work his way back by Week 2, but refused to make any promises of the sort. It will be interesting to see how the running back dynamic is shaped if Bell makes an earlier return than anticipated. Redman figures to get the bulk of the carries while Jones and Stephens-Howling take some snaps, but the team seems eager to move away from the committee role this season.