Friday, August 24, 2012

Isaac Redman, Max Starks And Players To Watch

"I wasn't sure how my body would react, but I don't feel anything right now. Kind of feel like I never really injured it."

Those words were spoken by the Pittsburgh Steelers running back Isaac Redman after practice on Thursday as he prepared for the third preseason game against the Buffalo Bills. Regarding the game itself, he said further, "I'm anxious to get out there. I want to get out there and play and give it my all."

Redman had to sit out the Steelers second preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts because of a hip injury. Since Redman's health status was unclear and Rashard Mendenhall, who was just removed from the Active PUP list, certainly won't be ready, until now we'd had Dwyer as the starter not only in Buffalo, but in Denver on September 9th also. Looks like that might not be the case after all.

Nonetheless, Redman has seen little action this preseason. He was in for 11 plays in the first preseason game against the Eagles and carried the ball just five times for 14 yards. He also caught a pass for five yards on the first play of the game.

So, Redman will play Saturday night in Buffalo, but what's unknown is how much. Tomlin has stated that the starters will play at least the first half, maybe more. Since Jason Ford, who has a hamstring strain, won't make the trip, the carries will be divided between Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, Baron Batch and Chris Rainey. 

Per Mike Tomlin on Thursday, the inactive list for Saturday will consist of Ford, James Harrison, Mendenhall and Stevenson Sylvester. Hampton is traveling with the team, but is unlikely to play. None of the others will even make the trip. As a matter of fact, Mendenhall says he has no timetable at all yet on his eventual return.

“To be real, I don’t know when I’ll be ready to play,” said the running back who injured his right ACL in the 2011 regular-season finale at Cleveland. “I’m just working with the training staff and doing what I can to get on the field.”

Unlike most recovering from ACL injuries, Mendy downplays the mental hurdles involved: "Theres a physical difference, and once that's gone, I'll be able to play."

Regardless, that timetable he doesn't know about? Don't expect him back before the bye.

Max Starks will also start against Buffalo. Whether he plays for a quarter or a half is unknown, since he nor the coaches wants to overdue it. Tomlin, expressively forthcoming as always simply said, "Our intentions are to let him play."

Tomlin also said it's unlikely that fourth-string quarterback Jerrod Johnson, who seemed a little more comfortable his second time out, will play against the Bills. Though, Tomlin didn't make a determination who the 2nd QB is yet, I would expect to see Byron Leftwich before Charlie Batch this time. 

~

PLAYERS TO WATCH in Saturday's preseason game against the Bills: 

DAVID GILREATH is consistently good in short area quickness and burst. He's still trying to earn a spot on this roster, but should be considered the frontrunner for the fifth wide receiver spot.

CHRIS CARTER is taking advantage of a golden opportunity and is "improving daily." With Harrison still ailing, look for him to stake a claim for the starting right outside linebacker position (with a solid performance over Cordy Glenn Saturday) against the Broncos to start the season.

JUSTIN PEELLE is a tight end who has played fullback and was brought in to replace the Steelers' David Johnson who was a tight end who had played fullback. Someone needs to be able backup WVU product Will Johnson and still play TE as well. 

MORTTY IVY, another WVU product, may just find a way onto the roster this year considering all the injuries to the position. If he has another solid game and can hold off Adrian Robinson, he just might do it this time. Though, both could make the initial 53-man roster with the aforementioned injuries being an issue. 

AL WOODS and CORBIN BRYANT are battling for the same position and one has to go. Woods had the big interception that he took about 50 yards into the red zone. It must've taken a lot out of him because Bryant received the majority of the snaps in the second game. Who'll step up Saturday?