Isaac Redman is preparing as if he will start the season opener Sunday against the Titans. The fourth-year veteran is also hoping to get the bulk of the carries so he can make a legitimate case that he should be the Steelers' No. 1 back. Redman opened last season as the starter but he also split time with Jonathan Dwyer. He received more than 13 carries in just one game, and Redman certainly responded to the increased workload as he gashed the Giants for 147 yards and a touchdown on 26 totes. Redman said it was hard to get into a rhythm with the Steelers rotating backs in 2012, but he will have limited time to show that he can be the team's workhorse. Rookie Le'Veon Bell is out of a walking boot and is making progress as the second-round draft pick works his way back from a mid-foot sprain.
The players were not, ahem, impressed with SI.com's rankings of the NFL's top five defenses as the Steelers were not among those units. The Steelers have led the league in total defense (yards allowed per game) the past two seasons but questions persistently swirl around a unit that has five starters who are well over 30 years old, including three in the secondary. The defense has to do more than just limit opponents' total yards this season. The Steelers managed just 37 sacks last season, the lowest total in Mike Tomlin's six years as head coach. It also forced 20 turnovers, also the lowest number of takeaways during Tomlin's tenure.
Heath Miller (knee) will return sooner rather than later after the Steelers took the veteran tight end off the physically unable to perform (PUP) list last Saturday. Tomlin should provide an update on Miller at his Tuesday news conference, but I will be surprised if he provides any timetable for Miller's return. Like most coaches, Tomlin generally divulges as little as possible when it comes to injuries. The good news for the Steelers is Jarvis Jones (chest) looks like he is good to go for the season opener. The rookie first-round pick practiced on Monday and he said he wasn't limited. It will be interesting to see how the Steelers divide the snaps at right outside linebacker between Jason Worilds and Jones.
SI.com's Chris Burke thinks the Steelers are primed to return to the playoffs. He cites Troy Polamalu as the biggest reason why, and Burke anticipates the perennial Pro Bowler staying healthy after missing nine games last season. Polamalu has looked terrific but it is a long season, and his aggressive style of play makes Polamalu's health one of the biggest X factors heading into the season.
This is a quick and fun read of a team put together from the players who were cut when teams pared their roster to the 53-man limit. Dwyer made the cut so to speak. So did former Steelers linebackers Stevenson Sylvester and Marshall McFadden. Also on the team is former Patriots punter Zoltan Mesko, who signed with the Steelers on Monday.