Redman Assumes RB Job His

Isaac Redman ran No. 1 on Monday. Will he on Sunday? And updates on injured backs Will Johnson, Le'Veon Bell. Plus, a new punter, a gunner and four captains.

PITTSBURGH -- The news of Isaac Redman's demise has been greatly exaggerated.

At least by those calling Felix Jones the Steelers' starting running back.

Redman was the first-team tailback at Monday's practice, and Redman assumes he's going to start Sunday in a mouth-watering role against the Tennessee Titans, the 24th-ranked run defense last year and the 30th-ranked this preseason.

Redman said he hasn't been told he would start, but "I go out there, I run with the first team, do the first four reps. Isn't that normally what the starter does?" Redman asked. "I'm just preparing as if I'm the starter until they tell me otherwise."

Redman started the opener last year but struggled through an 11-carry, 20-yard performance. His second and third games were similar.

"Last year coming into the opener I knew it would be for two series and then (Jonathan) Dwyer would go in for two series," Redman said. "Right now I'm really not sure what's going on, but I feel they may be leaning towards letting me carry the load. ... I feel I'm ready to go out there and perform at a high level."

Redman didn't start again last season until the eighth game, when he gained 147 yards on 26 carries against the Giants. But he followed that up with 21 yards on 8 carries against Kansas City in his final start.

Redman lost weight and clearly increased his speed in the spring. He was the starter in the preseason opener but he only carried twice before LaRod Stephens-Howling made his Steelers debut.

At practice the following week, Redman suffered a shoulder/neck stinger and missed the remainder of preseason.

"If it was up to me, I would've been out there," Redman said. "The second preseason game I wasn't able to go, but the last two I felt like I could've been out there.

"They didn't want any unnecessary hits really because the way a stinger heals you've got to just not get hit on it. You're able to play through the pain but why risk that in two preseason games?"

Redman said he's remained "in tip-top shape since March, so I don't think that's a problem."

The Steelers released Dwyer over the weekend, but could be getting rookie Le'Veon Bell back within two or three weeks. He suffered a foot injury in Game 3 against Kansas City.

"I'm going to try to get back by Week Two," said Bell. "I'm going to try, but I'm not making any promises."

MORE ??? IN BACKFIELD

Fullback Will Johnson showed off some big-league lead-blocking skills before he injured his hamstring covering a kickoff last Thursday in Carolina. He couldn't run and left the game, missed Monday's practice, and said he hopes to practice Wednesday.

"I want to play Sunday," he said. "But first let's see about Wednesday and we'll go from there."

Johnson called it "a minor hamstring (injury)" and agreed he was playing well in Carolina, but not perfect.

"There are always things I can work on, as far as isolation blocking," he said. "Rewinding from the previous game to the Washington game, that was probably one of my worst games since I've been here, as far as blocking. That's why I say it's coming along because there are still things I have to improve on. But, yeah, it's coming day by day."

LABOR DAY MOVES

The Steelers made three roster moves on Monday, starting with the release of C-G John Malecki to sign C-G Cody Wallace (6-4, 300), a 2008 fourth-round draft pick out of Texas A&M. Wallace has played in two NFL games.

On Monday afternoon, the Steelers released punter Drew Butler and signed former New England Patriots punter Zoltan Mesko. In three seasons, Mesko has averaged 44.2 yards per kick, 40.7 net.

The Steeles also released cornerback Isaiah Green to claim cornerback/punt-gunner Antwon Blake (5-9 1/4, 192) off waivers. As a rookie out of UTEP, Blake led Jacksonville with 12 special-teams tackles last season.

The Steelers also voted Ben Roethlisberger, Maurkice Pouncey, Brett Keisel and Ryan Clark team captains.


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