Behind Redman on the depth chart are youngsters Jonathan Dwyer (eight career games), John Clay (two games), rookie Chris Rainey and second-year Baron Batch, who tore an ACL early in his rookie training camp last year.
Redman briefly was knocked out of practice Sunday, shaken up after a block. The Steelers’ most physical back, Redman’s early goal-line prowess was a sign of things to come.
“It takes a team to hit that guy,” linebacker LaMarr Woodley said.
“You can’t just think that when you hit him he’s falling down, because he’s spinning and fighting for extra yards.”
Redman made his first career start last season, but it wasn’t until Mendenhall went down in the regular-season finale at Cleveland on Jan. 1. He had a career-high 92 rushing yards and a touchdown, but the best was yet to come.
Making his first career postseason start the following week at Denver, Redman became just the fourth undrafted running back to rush for more than 100 yards in a playoff game.
Redman’s game-high 121 yards on 17 carries perhaps was a factor in Steelers management’s decision not to pursue a veteran running back over the offseason. Even with Mendenhall’s status in limbo for the start of the season, Pittsburgh let Moore go.
With only a young stable of inexperienced backs behind him, the message was clear: The Steelers have faith in Redman to carry the load.
“Coming from Bowie State, nobody really even thought that I would amount to anything here, so I know any good that I did would probably spark a lot of people,” Redman said. “It was a lot easier to impress people then. Now, coming in, everybody’s looking at me to be a No. 1 back and all eyes are on me, so it’s kind of different from when I first came in until now.”
Redman irked some veteran teammates three years ago when he spiked the ball after a touchdown during a goal-line drill as a rookie. He earned their respect through his work ethic, aggressive running style and commitment to the dirtier aspects of his job such as blocking.