Rookie free agents from places such as Bowie State typically don't stick around for long.
"The only thing I kept saying when I first got here was as long as they don't cut me before I put the shoulder pads on, I should be fine," he said.
Three seasons later, Redman knows he needs to be more than that if the Steelers want to reach a record ninth Super Bowl. With starter Rashard Mendenhall out for the postseason with a torn ACL in his right knee, the defending AFC champions will turn to a player who tries to make up in ferocity what he lacks in finesse.
That's fine by Redman, who understands at 27, this may be his best -- and perhaps only -- shot to show he belongs.
"It's a national stage, everybody's watching, and I'm just trying to go out there and prove that I'm not just a back doing just enough to get us there," he said. "I want to be a back that led us to the Super Bowl."
The first step comes on Sunday against Denver in the wild-card round, where Redman must be effective enough to take some of the pressure off hobbled quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who continues to deal with a painful sprained left ankle.
Redman would welcome a heavy workload. He ran for 92 yards and a touchdown in a 13-9 win at Cleveland last weekend on a career-high 19 carries. Yet he also fumbled twice and spent the fourth quarter watching rookie John Clay take his spot as the Steelers tried to close it out.
Redman provides the Steelers with the kind of smashmouth back they haven't had since Jerome Bettis retired after the 2005 season.
Mendenhall is shifty and quick. Redman is neither.
"You know that he's going to hit the hole and if one's there great, if not, he'll try to make one anyway," center Maurkice Pouncey said.
And he'll also try to make an impression this weekend.
"I'd be lying if I said I'd be fine with being a backup my whole career," he said. "Any opportunity I get I want to showcase my talent and hopefully somebody here or wherever looks at me and says `Man, this guy is capable of being a No. 1 back in this league."'
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press