Steelers running back Isaac Redman played in one preseason game before a pinched nerve sidelined him for the rest of August. Now, with the regular season days away, the fourth-year player will roll with the first team when the Steelers face the Titans.
"We know what Isaac is capable of," coach Mike Tomlin said during Tuesday's press conference. "He's answered the bell for us in the past. We expect him to do it in a big way moving forward."
And Redman will need to; over the weekend, the Steelers released Jonathan Dwyer, the team's leading rushing in 2012. And rookie second-round pick Le'Veon Bell is sidelined with a mid-foot sprain that could keep him out of action for several more weeks. That leaves Redman, recent acquisition Felix Jones and third-down back LaRod Stephens-Howling to share the workload.
Jones, whom the Eagles traded to the Steelers almost two weeks ago, was impressive in two preseason games and did enough to win a job at Dwyer's expense.
"We're continuing to get to know Felix," Tomlin said. "We like his natural run instincts. He quickly proved that he can do some positive things in terms of running the football."
A 2008 first-round pick of the Cowboys, Jones has had an up and down NFL career, and he would have likely been cut by the Eagles had he not been traded. Now, in addition to his backfield duties, he'll return kicks in Pittsburgh.
Meanwhile, Redman, who rushed for 410 yards last season (3.7 YPC), just wants to do the most with this opportunity.
"If everything holds up and I stay healthy, I'm planning on going out there and performing and [keeping the coaches from] wanting to put anyone else in," he said.
The Steelers moved to a zone-blocking scheme this offseason, and the hope is that, along with a young, mobile offensive line, it will fix a running game that floundered a season ago.