Too early to get excited about Redman?
Posted August 16, 2009 7 :10 PM
The surest way to get Mike Tomlin to roll his eyes? That's easy. Simply gush to the Steelers coach about what a good camp rookie running back Isaac Redman is having.
Redman, who scored both Steelers touchdowns in last Thursday's preseason opener, added to his impressive (sorry, Mike) body of work Sunday.
He scored five times from the 1-yard line in the goal-line drill and got the ball all seven times even though the Steelers had planned for Justin Vincent and Carey Davis to get some carries as well.
How impressed was Tomlin by the undrafted rookie free agent's showing? As reporters moved from interviewing Redman to Tomlin after practice the third-year head coach said, "Sorry to interrupt you, Isaac."
Tomlin said it without the hint of a smile, making it clear that he thinks it's just plain silly to make such a fuss over a rookie in the middle of August.
"He's still got a ways to go," Tomlin said of Redman. "No question he represented himself pretty well today."
"He's got a long list (of players) to climb through," added offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, "but that was a nice step."
The Steelers coaches, at least publicly, are saying it is too early to get excited about Redman. But it wasn't too long ago that another undrafted free agent ran his way into the consciousness of the Steelers coaches and ultimately onto the 53-man roster.
That was Willie Parker in 2004.
Not to compare the 6-foot, 230-pound Redmen to Parker — it is definitely way too early for that and they are completely different backs — but longshots are what makes training camp so intriguing because you know every year a couple of them are going to emerge.
As for Redman, here is what we do know about him.
He ended up at Bowie State, a Division II school in Maryland, because of poor grades. He set the school's all-time rushing record and his game tapes impressed the Steelers enough to send the Paulsboro, N.J., native to a contract after the draft.
Redman has shown good power, a nose for the end zone and the kind of balance you'd expect from someone who won a state championship as a wrestler (215 pounds) in high school.
The biggest thing working against Redman is the fact that the Steelers have a rather crowded backfield. Parker, Rashard Mendenhall and Mewelde Moore are locks to make the team. Davis seems safe too.
That presumably leaves Redman battling Frank "The Tank" Summers for the final running backs spot on the 53-man roster and there is still plenty of time for more competition to come into the picture.
The Steelers need a short-yardage back but Redman will also have to show the coaches that he is a well-rounded player to push his way onto the team.
"You can't dress on Sunday with just that role," Arians said of Redman being a short-yardage back. "You've got to play special teams. He's learning and he's got the skill to do it. He's an excellent pass blocker."
He is also just a rookie, which is why he carries Parker's pads to the locker room after every practice. And why Tomlin and his assistants are holding off on making any big plans for Redman just yet.
"I'm just going to come out and work hard every day," Redman said. "Hopefully I can find a spot on this team."
Parker returns to practice
Posted August 15, 2009 7 :38 PM
News and notes from training camp Saturday ...
· Willie Parker returned to practice after missing nearly a week with a bad back. Justin Hartwig participated fully, as expected, for the first time since training camp started.
Hartwig had been waiting for assurances by the Steelers' medical personnel that his right big toe, which is fractured, wouldn't get any worse if he went all out in practice.
"I'm definitely not 100 percent or close to it," said Hartwig, who started every game at center last season, "but I've been reassured my problem isn't going to get worse by playing on it. I'm just going to have to deal with pain for awhile while it heals."
Coach Mike Tomlin said he expects Parker and Hartwig to play Saturday night when the Steelers visit the Washington Redskins for a preseason game.
Running backs Rashard Mendenhall (thigh contusion) and Mewelde Moore (hamstring) and wide receiver Tyler Grisham (hamstring) didn't practice yesterday.
Wide receiver Martin Nance (hamstring) returned to practice on a limited basis and wide receiver Brandon Williams (abdominal strain) is close to returning to practice, Tomlin said.
It is imperative that both play against the Redskins if they want to have a chance of making the team.
· Both offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and running backs coach Kirby Wilson said they were pleased with how Mendenhall played in the Steelers' first preseason game last Thursday.
Mendenhall, playing in his first game since last September, started against Arizona and rushed for 24 yards on nine carries.
Arians said he was impressed with how Mendenhall, the Steelers' first-round pick in 2008, did in picking up blitzes as a blocker.
"I thought he was very, very solid," Wilson said of Mendenhall's overall play. "He ran extremely hard. He put the ball where it should have been put every time, and that's what you look for. Is he making the right read, is his ball placement correct? He's taking advantage of all his (repetitions).
"He can only control one thing and that's his effort. I thought his effort was outstanding and he can't control the line of scrimmage. He can't control the calls. He went out there and gave us the best he had and we'll see what happens this next game."
· Tomlin talked to the players after practice Saturday about cutting down on penalties.
The Steelers were penalized seven times for 70 yards against the Cardinals.
Tomlin said the Steelers had too many penalties last season and that they need to eliminate ones that he and most coaches deem pretty much inexcusable: infractions that happen before or after the snap.
One thing Tomlin isn't concerned about is right tackle Willie Colon getting penalized last Thursday for being too far away from the line of scrimmage. That happened several times last season, but Tomlin said "Every officiating crew is different in regard to that. You've got to get a sense of how they're going to call the game and make proper adjustments. I don't think what happened the other night is an indication of where (Colon) is with that."
· Arians on which players stood out to him after reviewing tape of the Cardinals game: "I think both the wide receiver, Michael (Wallace) and Limas (Sweed), had good games. Dennis (Dixon) had a very nice ball game. The two big thumpers (Isaac Redman and Frank Summers), they played pretty well together. Tony Hills had a nice outing. It was real nice to see that."
Redman, an undrafted free agent running back, scored both of the Steelers touchdowns against the Cardinals. But he got several reminders Saturday that he is still a rookie who has yet to do anything at this level.
Free safety Ryan Clark popped Redman after he caught a flat pass. After practice, Redman had to lug Parker's pads off the field as part of his rookie initiation.
Hartwig practicing for Steelers
Posted August 15, 2009 3 :21 PM
Starting center Justin Hartwig was participating fully in practice for the first time Saturday afternoon.
Hartwig had been limited by a broken toe, and he didn't play in this past Thursday's preseason opener against the Arziona Cardinals.
"I'm excited, but I'm just more kind of amped because I haven' been going against anybody live on defense," Hartwig, who started every game at center for the Steelers last season, said early Saturday afternoon "It's one thing to do individual drills, but I'm in the mindset of going back to work."
Doug Legursky has been playing center with the first-team offense while rookie A.Q. Shipley has been running with the second team.
The Steelers have also been without starting right guard Darnell Stapleton (knee) for most of training camp.