Common Traits Atop Steelers Running Back Depth Chart No Coincidence

By Matthew Marczi

What a fall it has been for Pittsburgh Steelers running back Isaac Redman. In just the span of a few weeks, he has gone from starter to personal escort, playing just to help push Ben Roethlisberger forward on a third and one for a first down.

There have been some extenuating circumstances that have led Redman to being demoted behind new co-starters Le’Veon Bell and Felix Jones, but rest assured, he no longer possesses the distinction of co-starter because he earned it just as much as Jones earned the promotion.

Of course, it was always a matter of time for whomever the co-starter was that he would lose his spot once Le’Veon Bell was ready to go, and the Steelers have declared him ready for their Week Four matchup against the Minnesota Vikings.

Redman has not been able to have success much while carrying the ball so far this season. In the first game, he showed clear signs of rust after missing basically all of the preseason, and was unable to hold on to the ball twice.

The following week, he suffered a blow to the head and had to be put through a barrage of concussion tests before he could return to play. The delay afforded Jones the opportunity to flash some in his few runs, and when Redman did return to the game, he did not look much better than the week before, which included a failed conversion on a third and short scenario.

Redman did not see a single carry in the last game, and I do not expect that to change this week with Bell now being active. Jonathan Dwyer saw the most carries in the last game, and had the most yards.

However, almost all of his yardage came off two runs, and that is a problem, because he carried the ball 10 other times for just three yards, as Dave Bryan detailed recently. Still, the fact that he is now listed ahead of Redman on the depth chart suggests to me that the latter may find himself on the inactive list this week, although that spot may go to tight end Michael Palmer now that Heath Miller has had some game action under his belt.

Part of Redman’s issue is that he has not been getting the type of blocking from the offensive line and the tight ends that is most suited to his running style. All the backs have suffered through some poor run blocking, though it has gradually improved over the course of the first three weeks.

It is no coincidence, however, that presumably the two backs most capable of executing zone runs now find themselves on top of the depth chart in Le’Veon Bell and Felix Jones. That is simply the only thing the line has shown itself capable of committing to on the ground thus far, and they now have the backs most able to help them succeed in that system. Will it bear fruit against the Vikings? We will all find out together, I suppose…

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