With the regular season approaching and the opportunity of a lifetime within his reach, running back Isaac Redman is hoping the nagging pain in his hip is gone for good. But he acknowledged that the troublesome injury that has prevented him from practicing much of the past two weeks might be a season-long issue.
"I'm a downhill runner and take a lot of pounding," Redman said. "I'm not really sure how the hip is going to hold up or if it's going to hurt at all, or if I'm going to be fine. I'm just going to go day to day and see how it feels.
"It's pretty much a pain-tolerance thing. It might nag me throughout the year. I'm just going to have to fight through the pain."
With starting running back with Rashard Mendenhall (knee) out, Redman was in line to be the new starter. He started the first preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles, but was injured on the first drive.
Last week, Redman had an MRI, which did not reveal a significant injury. He tried to practice, but the hip didn't cooperate. He returned to practice Tuesday and was pleasantly surprised Wednesday morning when he woke up without pain. It was the first time in weeks he has been pain-free, He is hoping to play in the third preseason game Saturday at Buffalo.
"When I first did it, it hurt pretty bad," he said. "It was probably an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10. I couldn't run. I couldn't cut. Then I tried to go and I had problems moving laterally. It was a sharp pain. When I went [Tuesday], everything went well. I didn't feel anything. I didn't have any setbacks, so I'm going to move forward every day.
"I'm trying to make it to where I can go Saturday. I have to go out there and get as many reps as possible.
"Right now, I'm just trying to work my way back. Right now, I feel good. I feel a lot better than I did last week. I have to try to take this opportunity and run with it and fight through this injury."
Nose tackle Casey Hampton was taken off the physically-unable-to-perform list last week, but the veteran hasn't been able to do much in practice since. Hampton's surgically repaired knee no longer is the problem. It's his left elbow that he said was recently "fixed."
Most Steelers are not disclosing much about injuries or whether they had procedures to take care of them, but Hampton indicated Wednesday that he had minor surgery on the elbow.
"It was something that was nagging me, that didn't go away, and I had to take care of it," Hampton said. "I got the elbow fixed, so I have to let it heal up and get right. I'm not worried about my knee at all."
Hampton, never one to put much stock in training camp or preseason games, said his goal is to be ready for the season opener Sept. 9 at Denver.
"I'm going to be ready when it's time to go," he said. "That's my plan."
Until then, third-year player Steve McLendon will hold down the starting spot at nose tackle. McLendon has done so well there is no pressure for Hampton to return until he is completely comfortable, and he might split time with McLendon when he does come back.
"I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be in the best shape when I get back," Hampton said. "However it goes, he's definitely earned the right to be out there. It's definitely good having a guy who is capable of getting the job done.
"He's going to be a very, very good player. He's just scratching the surface of how good he can be. When he really figures it out and realizes how good he is, the sky is the limit for him. He can be a great player in this league."
First Published August 23, 2012 4:00 AM