The Pittsburgh Steelers put forth their finest rushing performance in nearly a full season this past Sunday. With rookie Le’Veon Bell leading the way with 93 yards, the team combined for 141 yards on the ground. The last time they rushed for 140+ yards was way back in week 9 of last season against the New York Giants. Amazingly, a single back put up 147 yards all by himself.
That was and always will be the highlight of Isaac Redman‘s NFL career.
It will most certainly be the highpoint of his time in the Black and Gold because yesterday the Steelers officially cut Redman. His place on the 53 man will be taken by linebacker Kion Wilson, who was signed to the practice squad when the team brought back ILB Stevenson Sylvester.
Redman, an undrafted rookie out of Bowie State, became something of a Steeler Nation fan favorite back in 2009 when he put on an epic performance in short yardage and goal line drills. He was dubbed “Red Zone” for his supposed ability to grind out the tough yard in those situations. In reality, he was never particularly great in short yardage although he certainly put forth his best effort. His running style was to basically get the ball and plow straight ahead with nary a juke or jump cut in sight. While he somehow managed to pile up 889 rushing yards as the team’s top back-up and occasional starter over the past two seasons, Redman was always an extremely limited player with below average speed and little big play potential.
When Bell was injured during preseason, Redman some how managed to convince the Steelers coaching staff that he was the best choice to start in the interim even after trading for former Cowboys first rounder Felix Jones. Despite struggling to average a little more than a yard per carry, Mike Tomlin and company stuck with Redman as starter way beyond any point of logic or sanity. What’s more, in going with Redman the team released Jonathan Dwyer, a younger, slightly more athletic version of iRed who was cut in order to get to the final 53 man roster. That Dwyer is still on the team is a rare acknowledgement from this arrogant self-smitten coaching staff that they goofed.
Jones has since emerged as the team’s top back-up as his speedy shifty running style is a nice change of pace from the other backs on the roster. I said this during the draft and it bears repeating – with Redman, Dwyer, and Bell, the Steelers had three backs of roughly similar style. Bell is clearly the most talented of the three with Dwyer at least showing the occasional flash of potential. Redman was always a Try Hard case, a guy of limited ability who made his bones by hard work and sheer force of will. Unfortunately, a blue collar attitude can only take you so far especially when Dwyer finally decided dedicate himself to his career.
I’m sure the Steelers will keep Redman on speed dial should another of their backs get injured. Despite the league wide injury bug, I don’t foresee any great rush for Redman’s services. If Red Zone has played his last NFL game, I think he can hold his head up high for going from undrafted rookie out of a no-name school to being a fairly significant part of the Steelers running game for nearly two years. You may not have been the best back to ever lace up the cleats, Redman, but your story is certainly one of the most notable.
Best of luck in your life’s work.