In his second NFL season, running back J.R. Redmond learned having a little patience can help out in the long run.
The 2001 campaign was a roller coaster ride for Redmond, to say the least. During training camp he was battling **Antowain Smith** for the lead back role in the running game. In late November, he was a frustrated and forgotten part of the offense. By season's end, Redmond was among the most vital contributors to New England's run to the Super Bowl title.
Thinking about how the season ended has Redmond raring to get 2002 underway. Tasting such success has him hungry for more.
"You think about the Super Bowl, but it's obviously not a reality until you get through the first game, second game and so on in the playoffs," Redmond said during mini-camp. "Around here you think back about it all the time because every time you run in to somebody they ask you, 'How's the team looking? Do you think you can do it again?' Right now we have to set our sights on the opening day."
A year ago at this time Redmond was gearing up to fight for the starting back job. He lost out to Smith and his season got off to a slow start. Through the first nine games of the season, he had nine carries for 32 yards and six catches for 37 yards. He also missed three games with an ankle injury, was not used on offense in two games and was active without playing in one game.
After Week Nine, Redmond expressed his displeasure at his role in the offense. Down the stretch he was much more active, getting 26 carries for 87 yards and seven catches for 95 yards over the final seven games, getting involved on offense in each game. He took over the third-down back role and was particularly important on the waning moments of both the Snow Bowl win over Oakland and the game-winning drive in the Super Bowl. In three playoff games he had nine catches for 69 yards.
"The Raider game, for me anyway, that was about the most fun game I've ever played in," Redmond said. "We had to go out there in the snow, with no sleeves on, getting hit and go slip-sliding 5 yards. Myself, I was a little star-struck being that I am from Los Angeles and I grew up loving the Raiders. A lot of my favorite players are still around playing, like Tim Brown and Jerry Rice. Just being around all the silver and black, walking out of the tunnel was an experience for me, but once the game started all of that stuff didn't matter."
What also mattered to Redmond was that he knows he was a key contributor to the team success. He still feels he is capable of being more than a third-down back in the NFL, and even with Smith getting a multi-year contract extension, Redmond is ready for more challenges and responsibilities next season