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Isaac Redman: RB Must Find a Way to Fight Through Injury to Keep Steelers Afloat

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Isaac Redman: RB Must Find a Way to Fight Through Injury to Keep Steelers Afloat
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Judging by Isaac Redman's own comments, it's possible that Steelers fans should be worried.

The running back was supposed to be Pittsburgh's solution while Rashard Mendenhall recovers from a torn ACL. Even though Mendenhall has been removed from the PUP list, according to ESPN.com's Adam Schefter, he's unlikely to play in the Steelers' season opener versus Denver—and he may not see the field throughout the month of September.

That was where Redman was supposed to step in. Except now, he's dealing with an injury bug of his own, and he doesn't seem to be all that optimistic that he can beat it.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ray Fittipaldo, Redman has been dealing with a nagging hip injury since taking a hit in Pittsburgh's first game of the preseason. Ever since, the hip has been an issue—even after an MRI revealed no significant injury, according to Fittipaldo.

The concern, though, is the way Redman is talking about the injury—like he's already resigned himself to the fact that it's going to limit him in the short term.

Redman told Fittipaldo:

I'm a downhill runner and take a lot of pounding. I'm not really sure how the hip is going to hold up or if it's going to hurt at all, or if I'm going to be fine. I'm just going to go day to day and see how it feels. It's pretty much a pain-tolerance thing. It might nag me throughout the year. I'm just going to have to fight through the pain.

The good sign: Redman clearly recognizes that he needs to fight through this, or else. The bad sign is that he doesn't seem all that confident that he can do it.

When he's healthy, Redman can be effective. After getting into just one game in his rookie year, he played in 16 games in each of the last two seasons, compiling 726 rushing yards and five total touchdowns from 2010-11. He's a work in progress, but he's chugging along.

And right now, the last thing he needs is a nagging injury that's going to thwart his upward trajectory—especially at this moment, when he has such an excellent opportunity to steal the spotlight. 

It's hard to know how much pain these players can handle. It's hard to say that they should just ignore their symptoms and make sure they get enough cortisone shots so they can't feel a thing, because nobody knows what's really going on except the players themselves.

But in this age of the NFL, playing through injuries is like a rite of passage. Tim Tebow allegedly did it against the Patriots in the 2012 playoffs. Tom Brady allegedly did it throughout the 2010 season. Toughness in the NFL is based on who can take the most abuse without letting it derail them.

Not necessarily the healthiest outlook, but that's the way it is.

This might be Redman's only chance to shine. Mendenhall won't be back for a couple weeks, or maybe even a couple months, which means there's no better time for his backup to prove he can handle the limelight—and to prove that he has the toughness to withstand the injuries that often accompany it.

Simply put, the Steelers need Redman right now. And if he wants to be an integral part of this team for the long term, he's going to have to play through this in the short term.

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