Redman prepared to carry the load

The memory is still fresh in Isaac Redman's mind. It was training camp of his rookie season when he woke up in his dorm room in Rooney Hall at St. Vincent College and realized none of his teammates were around.

"I overslept," recalled Redman. "I came out of the dorm and everybody was on the field. The first thing I thought was why didn't my roommate wake me up? I thought I would go out there and they would send me back to my room and tell me to go home.

"Coach (Mike) Tomlin asked what happened and I explained. I really thought I might get cut. That never happened again."

It truly was a wake-up call for Redman, who said it made him grow not only as a person, but as a player.

"I am a lot more professional," said Redman. "I am a lot smarter. I am always early, watch film. I am more dedicated to what I am doing."

That is going to be a necessity this year as Redman will carry the load for the Steelers running game when the 2012 season kicks off in Denver, with Rashard Mendenhall still working his way back from a torn ACL suffered in the 2011 regular-season finale against Cleveland.

Redman is ready for the challenge.

"You look at the depth chart and see your name number one there," said Redman. "It makes you look back at how far you have come since you got here. I am trying to treat this situation the same way I have every other one since I got here and trying to make the best of it.

"Since I left Bowie State I haven't come into a season with all eyes on me and being that guy whose spot it is from day one. I am out here on the field, running with the ones, and everything feels different. I feel like I am back home and I am ready to take this opportunity and run with it."

This has been a key offseason for Redman, who admits he wasn't in the best of shape his rookie year and doesn't want anything like that to happen again.

"You focus in a lot more on your workouts, eating habits," said Redman. "I feel like I want my body in tip-top shape by the time the season gets here to be ready to take the bulk of carries and take those hits day in and day out. You have seen my style of running. If I am going to run like that for a whole season I am going to have to be ready because that is the way I am. There is no going down. I am going to fight for the extra yards. With that running style I am going to have to make sure my body is ready to take it.

"I came back early to make sure I am in shape, the shape of a starting running back in this league, so my body doesn't get too worn down or getting too tired by the time the middle of the season comes. I am going to have to stay away from McDonalds and Burger King and be more disciplined and be more professional about the way I take care of my body."

Another reason Redman wanted the early jump was to get a look at offensive coordinator Todd Haley's playbook before OTAs got underway.

"For me, being in the league a couple of years now, I am picking it up faster than the younger guys," said Redman. "It's not too difficult for us. Everybody is out here working together, helping each other out, discussing things so that when the season comes around we should be clicking on all cylinders."

While this is the first time Redman is starting at the beginning of the season, it's not the first time he started for the Steelers. Redman started two games in 2011, including the AFC wild card game against the Denver Broncos when he responded with 121 yards on 17 carries, after what was an emotionally trying week.

When Redman arrived at the Steelers practice facility the Friday morning before the game he heard about a fire at running backs coach Kirby Wilson's home. He soon got word that Wilson was injured, but initially didn't know how serious it was.

"I was kind of in disbelief," said Redman. "I didn't really understand what was going on, how serious it was, just that his house caught on fire. I didn't know it was life threatening. When I heard that it hit me hard that he was fighting for his life and you have to go out and play a game you know he loves. I wanted to play my heart out for him."

Redman heard all of the speculation, that Wilson might not be back at all during the 2012 season, or he might be out six or nine months. Others told him it could even be two years. So when Redman returned for offseason workouts in April, he was thrilled to see Wilson there greeting him.

"That is all of the motivation you need," said Redman. "A guy fighting for his life three months ago and you come back and he is at his desk working. He is like Superman. To go through what he went through, to come back and be at work, on the field, going over plays, it's just very inspirational."

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