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Isaac Redman will play bigger role for Steelers in 2012

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As we count down the days to training camp, Around the League will examine one player from every team set for a breakout campaign in 2012. We next take a look at the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Isaac Redman will carry the load

We all know the story. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger -- tweaked by the dismissal of former offensive coordinator (and guy-pal) Bruce Arians -- has been asked to adjust to Todd Haley's run-heavy offense.

Making the Leap

Around the League will pick from each NFL team one player who's poised for a breakout season in 2012:

AFC East
Bills | Dolphins | Jets | Patriots
AFC North
Bengals | Browns | Ravens | Steelers
AFC South
Colts | Jaguars | Texans | Titans
AFC West
Broncos | Chargers | Chiefs | Raiders
NFC East
Cowboys | Eagles | Giants | Redskins
NFC North
Bears | Lions | Packers | Vikings
NFC South
Buccaneers | Falcons | Panthers | Saints
NFC West
49ers | Cardinals | Rams | Seahawks

The absence of the team's best running back, Rashard Mendenhall, doesn't help. It means little-used Isaac Redman will be asked to do more than ever before.

Redman has 726 rushing yards to his name. His first three seasons in Pittsburgh were spent behind Mendenhall, but he's preparing for next season as a starter.

"It's a different thing when you have to be that guy week in and week out," Redman told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review this month . "Your mind-set has to be totally different to take more hits."

Let's not lose our way over the "run-happy" Steelers. Big Ben still rolls with a legion of dangerous wideouts and Haley better find a way to use them all. The passing game still carries this team, but if Redman doesn't pan out, Haley's scheme loses its true north.

Redman says he's ready for this. We believe him. Why? Because (1) he produced in their playoff loss to Denver, and (2) history tells us offseason drama in Pittsburgh doesn't mean a thing when the real games begin.

Experts announced doom for the team when Big Ben was slapped with a four-game suspension to open the 2010 season. In his absence, Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch leaned on a tightly knit roster and opened 3-1. Big Ben returned and the Steelers rolled to the Super Bowl.

The Haley transition has been rocky, from where we sit, but it sets up Redman for a career-changing season.

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