There was a welcome sight on the practice field Wednesday when tight end/fullback David Johnson returned for the first time since tearing his ACL against the Philadelphia Eagles in the preseason opener last year.
Johnson missed the entire 2012 season, and opened training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list and was placed on the active roster Wednesday.
"It feels great," said Johnson. "I have been at it a long time. I was really excited to get back out there today, finally put on the pads and be out there with the guys.
"I knew it would be a long road. I just kept my faith in God and just kept working hard. I knew at the end I would be all right."
With fellow tight end Heath Miller still on the PUP list recovering from an ACL injury at the end of last season, and Matt Spaeth hobbled with a lisfranc injury, having a healthy Johnson is a huge boost for the offense and he is ready to go.
"I am confident," said Johnson. "I am excited to get back out here. I know if I focus on getting out here and playing and doing what I need to do, everything will be all right. I feel great."
Johnson's status for Saturday's preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs is unknown right now, much of it dependant on how he does in practice the rest of the week.
"We're going to base his performance based on what we see out here from an execution standpoint," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "Obviously, working is one thing. We'll see what he looks like (Thursday) and see how his body responds to the work that he did (Wednesday). It's a process, and there's really no script for it. We're going to do what's appropriate."
The competition at running back continues to heat up, even as some of the contenders continue to be hampered by injuries. Rookie Le'Veon Bell, who battled a knee injury in camp, left the Redskins game in the first quarter with a foot injury and has been ruled out for the Kansas City Chiefs game on Saturday at Heinz Field.
Isaac Redman, who missed Monday night's game against the Redskins while still overcoming a stinger injury, said he plans on playing against the Chiefs this week. Redman, who is listed as a co-starter with Bell, understands the importance of every snap with the starting job still up in the air, a job he feels he can handle.
"Absolutely. I am all for it," said Redman. "I am going to come to work, do what I do every day and prepare myself. I came in to camp to compete for a number one spot. I take my job seriously. That is why I am here. I am a professional. I prepare each day, each week like I am a starter."
Redman, who worked on his quickness this offseason, said it didn't bother him when the team used their number two pick to draft Bell or when the two were listed as co-starters.
"It hasn't affected me at all," said Redman. "I come in to work, do what I am supposed to do, be where I am supposed to be and we are still competing. I am here to compete and now Le'Veon is down I am looking to step up and lead this room."