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Thu, 21 Jun 2012 12:39 PM EDT

Isaac Redman spent his 1st training camp with the Pittsburgh Steelers trying to get Mike Tomlin to remember his name. These days, Redman’s challenge has far more pressing effects. Football lines

The success of the Steelers’ running game and hopes of a well-rounded offense, fall on an unproven and undrafted backup who was playing the likes of Elizabeth City State in Division II football 4 years ago.

As Pittsburgh starts its mandatory minicamp, Redman is anticipated to take snaps with the starting offense as he’s done in previous weeks. He’s earned the inherent right to fill Rashard Mendenhall’s spot after he gained 121 yards against the Denver Broncos in the playoffs.

But Redman has to prove his durability. In 36 career games (including playoffs), he has had double-digit carries in 4.

“Ever since I’ve been here, I’ve been doubted by everyone except the players and coaches,” Redman said. “They understand the kind of player I am, and it’s why they’ve kept me around. They see something in me, so I never doubt myself. I am ready to get out there. Hopefully, I should surprise everyone.”

Confidence hasn’t ever been a problem for a player who went from Bowie State in 2008 to the Steelers’ training squad in 2009 to turning into the team’s specialized backup the previous 2 seasons.

Steelers has shown a great quantity of trust in Redman after not signing a veteran backup (like Brandon Jacobs, Cedric Benson, Ryan Grant or Mike Tolbert) and not drafting a running back till the 5th round. The Steelers’ actions say they believe Redman can replace Mendenhall, the team’s leading rusher for the last 3 years. Mendenhall is anticipated to be sidelined at the start the season because of ACL surgery in Jan.

The pressure is on Redman to produce because Steelers doesn’t have a security net. The other RBs have less experience than Redman. Jonathan Dwyer, John Clay and Baron Batch have a combined 35 career carries in the NFL.

So, why do the Steelers trust Redman so much? Although Mendenhall has the 1st-round pedigree, Redman’s between-the-tackles running style gives the offense a better shot at getting back to Steelers football.

Since the start of 2010, Mendenhall averaged 3.9 yards per carry, the 5th worst among the 28 players with at least 300 rushes in the last 2 seasons. Mendenhall also had the 2nd fewest yards after contact (1.6 per carry) among RBs with at least 200 carries.

Redman has shown flashes of being more physical and explosive in his 2 year career, averaging 4.5 yards per carry and scoring five touchdowns.

“Coming into the season there is always some form of nerves,” Redman said. “But once you step on the field and start performing, all of the nerves just go away and you simply try to perform at a serious level, which I’m sure I’m going to do.”

Redman won’t be the only change in Pittsburgh’s backfield. It was revealed last month that the team is converting tight end David Johnson into a fulltime fullback. There’s also been supposition that offensive coordinator Todd Haley will put more emphasis on the run than his predecessor, Bruce Arians.

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