Isaac Redman: Sturdy, short-burst chaos will be on display Sunday

Patrick Smith

As they cross the threshold of the 2013 season against the Titans, the Steelers starting running back may not be the most talented guy on the field, but he'll damn well bring the ruckus to it.

Isaac Redman has heart.

In fact, you may want to assume he has several of them stashed away in a dusty ice box somewhere -- considering the lucid violence with which he pounds defenders. On Tuesday, the Steelers named Redman their starting running back for this weekend's opener against the Titans. To some around the league, this was a surprise and may even be considered an offensive weakness. Anyone who's watched him play knows that word has no place in his presence.

The Steelers were clearly looking to expand their flexibility in the backfield this offseason -- drafting Le'Veon Bell and trading practice squad fodder for Flotsam Felix Jones. But that doesn't mean they've lost faith in Redman. He has a specific skill set -- the visitation of sturdy, short burst chaos -- to give it a name. In Bell's absence, the battery of Redman and Jones will function separately as the quickness and brutality that may someday make Bell a feature back -- guess which one Redman is?

When Ike Redman scores a touchdown this year, he won't be simply doing a celebratory shimmy in the endzone. That's a prognostic rain dance to foreshadow the future showers of carnage he intends to issue to defenses.

Okay, that last part may have been a little heavy-handed, but if you're a Steelers fan -- chances are pretty good around here, huh? -- you gotta love the way he assaults the pile, exploits bad tackling and refuses, with an oaken indignation, to go down easily -- like the Steelers themselves. That's why their floor is always somewhere around 8-8 and the annual expectations are very fingerprinted and silver.

It's true that his YPC was subpar last year. And he fumbled 3 times in just 110 carries. He's 28 years-old and he probably runs the same forty as his bulky and oft-hobbled QB counterpart. But he's an exemplary Steeler. He doesn't bleed Black and Gold. He makes his opponents do it for him. Bowie State University (Redman's alma mater) may not scream out "Blue Collar" to you, but he had to earn his place in the NFL against pros as an undrafted free agent after graduation. He wasn't given the protracted opportunity that draft picks enjoy because of their team's considerable investment in them. Redman instead, simply ran over his competition -- quite literally, considering the fact that his potential tacklers at the time were trying to make the cut too. Just watch him run. He loves to smash stuff -- like Gallagher, but with a slight hint of humor.

Redman has conspicuous flaws. He's not the future. He's not softly awakening reveries of Gale Sayers in anyone's memory. But he does hit the gaps hard enough to send at least part of your mind back in time. No one is saying he's Jerry Bettis reincarnate. He's not. But his stature in the current scope of football is a suitable allegory for the state of the Steelers in general. It seems like everybody out there is waiting for an average season. And that may end up being the case for Redman.

But he's gonna break your face doing it.

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