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Old 01-03-2012, 07:10 AM   #1
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Default Redman ready to lead Steelers' ground game

Redman ready to lead Steelers' ground game
By Mike Bires mbires@timesonline.com | Posted: Monday, January 2, 2012 11:45 pm

PITTSBURGH — The Steelers have a new "lead dog."

With Rashard Mendenhall done for the year, Isaac Redman takes over as the featured running back for as long as the Steelers last in the playoffs.

“I’m prepared,” he said. “I’ve been prepared all season. I’m capable of helping this team go to the Super Bowl.”

Redman's teammates agree.

“If he gets extra carries, I’m excited to see what he does with them,” tight end Heath Miller said.

With Mendenhall due to have surgery soon for a torn knee ligament, Redman will get extra carries starting Sunday when the Steelers open the playoffs with a wild-card game in Denver.

Redman will be expected to run as hard and as well as he did on his first 17 carries Sunday night in Cleveland. After Mendenhall went down late in the first quarter, Redman took over and racked up 70 rushing yards and accounted for the game’s only touchdown with a 7-yard score late in the third quarter.

But on his last two carries of the night, both in the fourth quarter as the Steelers tried to protect their lead, Redman fumbled the ball away. Redman would have been the game’s No. 1 star had he not lost those two fumbles.

On the first, he was popped hard by a linebacker Chris Gocong. On the second, he had the ball stripped from his grasp as he fought for more yards by free safety Mike Adams. Redman gained 22 yards on the runs, but they went for naught because of poor ball security.

“It’s unfortunate to end the game like that,” said Redman, whose 19 carries for 92 yards against the Browns were career highs. “It’s really not acceptable, hurting the team in crucial situations. I can’t do stuff like that and expect us to win games.

“But my confidence is not going to go anywhere. I’m ready to go to Denver and help this team win.”

Even though they scolded Redman for his fumbles, the Steelers coaches believe the second-year back out of NCAA Division II Bowie State can get the job done in Mendenhall’s absence.

Rookie John Clay got nine carries for 31 yards in the fourth quarter in Cleveland. But from now on, Redman will be the featured back or as offensive coordinator Bruce Arians calls Mendenhall, the "lead dog."

“There was no demotion there,” coach Mike Tomlin said of Clay taking over for Redman in the fourth quarter. “(Isaac) carried the ball quite a bit. We were just utilizing two guys. Obviously, we’d like him to hold onto the football better than he did at the end of the game.”

In his role as Mendenhall’s backup, Redman has rushed for 479 yards this season and averages 4.4 yards per carry. And he’s not a chronic fumbler. He’s carried the ball 110 times, and didn’t fumble on his first 108 touches.

“You can’t do that,” tackle Max Starks said of Redman’s fumbles in Cleveland. “But when you look at how well he ran otherwise, it was just one of those things. For Isaac to come in there and get as may carries as he did, I think he did admirable.

“Now that he’s got (those fumbles) out of the way, he has to be ready run hard and often in Denver, and I’m looking forward to him doing it.”
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