Issac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, or Rashard Mendenhall?
Who will be the Pittsburgh Steelers feature ballcarrier this week?
At his press conference this past Tuesday, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said that his decision on who will get the carries at running back this week against Kansas City depends on health and effectiveness.
"Whoever's being productive when healthy is going to get the totes," said Tomlin. "I really think it's that simple. I'm not going to make it any more complex than it has to be. At times this season we've had a running back by committee approach because none of them had been overly effective at that time. When someone's effective, they'll get the ball."
What does that mean exactly?
Last week's 147-yard rusher Redman isn't sure.
"I don't really understand what he means by that," he said after Wednesday practice. "Tomlin said 'I'm going to stay with the hot hand.' I had a pretty good game, Dwyer will be back this week, we'll both get carries. I'm not sure about Rashard's status. I don't know if he means the 'hot hand' is if you get two-yards on your first carry the next guy's up. I don't know. I'm just going to go out there and play hard. If that's what the coaches feel. I'm not a coach so I'm not going to sit here and say who should be the starting running back or not."
Left guard Willie Colon, part of a surging offensive line that is making the choice of back seem more insignificant as the weeks go by, didn't seem concerned who Tomlin would pick.
"I don't fall into the 'whoever is behind us we block differently' category," said Colon. "Every running back we have on this team is capable, hard-nosed to a certain degree. 'Red' is obviously coming off a great game. Dwyer is starting to find his identity at running back. I'm happy for both of them. It's a good problem to have. You know both guys are capable and willing to get the job done. It's just one of them things, who's hot right now. I would love to have both of them ready to go. We'll see. I know whoever is out there is going to do the best job to their ability."
Redman played 53-snaps in the team's win over the NY Giants, a number that even he was amazed by.
"I'm pretty sore right now," said Redman. "I played about 53 snaps and that's kind of unheard of for a running back. My body is kind of feeling it right now. We were down to just me and Chris Rainey. Baron Batch was limited because he was banged up and they told him he wouldn't play any offensive snaps, they wanted him strictly special teams."
Coming off a high-ankle sprain himself, Redman entered the game at less than 100% by his admission. However, he felt he came out of the game fine.
"I don't feel like it's a setback because I didn't re-injure it," he said. "It's just sore, which I knew it would be."
As for his career best day in terms of both carries and yardage, Redman was still riding high off the success.
"It felt good because I was out the past few weeks," said Redman. "I hate sitting on the sideline and watching my team go to battle and I'm just sitting there not being able to contribute. To know that we were down [players] and there wasn't any other running back that could step in, I had to really go out there and try to put the running game on my back. I just went out there and tried to do my best."
This week, however, he likely won't be alone with Dwyer returning from a thigh bruise. Dwyer had the team's first back-to-back 100-yard rushing games in four years prior to the win in New York. And Redman knows that he and Dwyer are comparable in the eyes of the bosses who will make playing time decision.
"We're similar," Redman said. "We're the same type of runner, with power, straight down-hill. Dwyer's a good running back, I'm a good running back. We're power runners so the longer the game goes on the more we wear defenses down. The less they want to tackle you. You can see it on film, the secondary and linebackers by the time it's the end of the game they don't want to tackle anymore."