Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin revealed today that running back Isaac Redman and rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones won’t play in Thursday’s final preseason game against the Carolina Panthers. Redman, who’s been sidelined with a stinger, has only played in the Steelers’ first preseason game. Jones, Pittsburgh’s 2013 first-round draft pick, suffered what Tomlin called an AC sprain of the chest.
Knowing that Tomlin won’t play the starters much against the Panthers on Thursday, one could wonder just where Jones and Redman stand when it comes to the regular season.
We all know that Jones will be on the 53-man roster, but there is still some uncertainty if he will be the Steelers’ starter at right outside linebacker. It appears that Jones outperformed four-year veteran outside linebacker Jason Worilds. Jones came up with big plays in the first three preseason games, while Worilds seemed to get lost in the shadows of Jones’ performance.
Not playing in the final preseason game is a smart move for Jones, and even if he was healthy, the rookie linebacker probably didn’t need to play. Personally, I feel that Jones has proven to be Pittsburgh’s starting linebacker. Even if that doesn’t happen, Jones should see a significant amount of playing time on the field.
As for Redman, his situation is much more serious. The fifth-year veteran was named the team’s co-starter, along with rookie running back Le’Veon Bell, but could be on the bubble with the recent addition of running back Felix Jones. Having Redman not play in this preseason finale will give Jones plenty of opportunities to win a spot on the 53-man roster.
However, Tomlin referring to Redman as “a known commodity,” gives the indication that he’ll be a part of the team during the regular season.
Usually the fourth game of the preseason doesn’t draw much attention, but Pittsburgh’s situation in the backfield makes this game a must-watch. Depending on the performances of Pittsburgh’s running backs in the final exhibition game, there definitely could be a surprise cut in the backfield.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+