Isaac Redman: Why Staying Healthy Is Key to Pittsburgh Steelers' Season
While Rashard Mendenhall might be the starter, it's Redman who will be biggest factor in how the Steelers' season will play out.
Mendenhall had missed the first three games of the season recovering from the torn ACL he suffered toward the end of last year. He then left last week's game with the Titans after suffering an Achilles injury.
Redman was hurt in the same game as he was hit in the knee by a helmet.
While the NFL is increasingly becoming a league base around the passing game, it's important that an offense have balance.
Pittsburgh should consider themselves lucky for the parity going on in the AFC right now. Their 2-3 record might spell doom for the season. But the 5-1 Ravens are the only team in the conference who have lost fewer than three games.
The record is a little misleading as well. Two of the Steelers' losses have come on game-winning field goals.
The Steelers can make the playoffs by relying simply on Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace to provide all of the offense through the air. But if Pittsburgh wants to win the Super Bowl, they'll need someone to throw opposing defense off from playing to stop the pass every down.
Pittsburgh has been terrible on the ground this year, averaging only 74.8 yards a game, 31st in the NFL.
The offensive line has been a problem for the Steelers over the past couple of years. That's why they drafted David DeCastro and Mike Adams in last year's draft. So the running backs aren't entirely to blame for the team's struggles to get the running game going.
At this point, it's hard to count on Mendenhall for the rest of the season. His talent is undeniable, but he has always been a little injury prone. Last year was the second time he's been place on the injured reserve list. He fractured his shoulder as a rookie in 2008.
As long as he's the starter, though, the Steelers should expect to improve on the ground.
In today's NFL, a team is best served being two-deep at running back. Mendenhall and Redman are nice foils to each other. Mendenhall has more of the explosiveness, and Redman can be counted on when you need to get a couple yards.
An injury to Redman would mean the Steelers are pinning their hopes on a running back who has a history of not staying healthy.
This year has proven that Pittsburgh can still be a very good team if Redman is the feature back.
While Redman is not having an electrifying year (127 yards, 1 TD on 50 carries), his importance cannot be understated.
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