Typically the recovery process of a torn knee ligament is between eight and 12 months, so the Steelers placed Mendenhall on the physically unable to perform list (PUP list) this summer as he continues his rehabbing following the surgery last winter.
Yesterday it was announced by General Manager Kevin Colbert that Mendenhall would likely miss the first six games of the season. Yesterday's news does not come as much of a surprise as I was already expecting Mendenhall to begin the regular season on the PUP list.
This hands the undrafted, 27-year old Isaac Redman a golden opportunity. Without Mendenhall in the picture for the first portion of the season, Redman will be handed the reins as Pittsburgh's No. 1 running back.
The bruising, 6'/230 pounder out of Bowie State University, entering his fourth season in the National Football League, has never ran the ball more than 110 times in a season. It's going to be quite a transition for both Redman and new offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who is attempting to install a new offense with inexperienced backs and possibly two rookies on the offensive line.
Appropriately nicknamed, "Redzone Redman" has been primarily used as a short-distance or third down running back. His sample size is very small–just 163 attempts over his three year span–but he's shown flashes of brilliance throughout his 2011 campaign.
Stepping in for the injured Mendenhall in January against Cleveland, Redman fell just shy of posting his first career 100-yard game, totaling 92 rushing yards and a TD on 19 attempts. Ineffective during the Steelers' Super Bowl run in 2010, Redman showed off his bruising running style in Pittsburgh's Wild Card matchup with Denver.
On his 17 carries, he average 7.1 yards per carry with his 121 yards in a 29-23 overtime loss.
It will be interesting to see how Redman adjusts to being an every down back, with the help of fellow backup running backs Jonathan Dwyer, John Clay, Baron Batch and rookie Chris Rainey, who are all battling for the second string spot.
The news throughout training camp this month from Latrobe, PA is that Redman is looking quite impressive and he is ready to shoulder the majority of the load for the reinvented Pittsburgh offense early on this season.
In my personal opinion, I'm rather excited that Redman will be taking over as the guy for Pittsburgh, and it wouldn't surprise me one bit to see him carry an elevated role even once Mendenhall is back and healthy. I'm starting to think that "Redzone Redman" posters and banners will be displayed all over Heinz Field this season, and be prepared to see T-shirts all over the state of Pennsylvania as well.
Isaac Redman is ready for action, and he's not going anywhere any time soon.
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