ANDERSON, Ind. — At some point near the end of Cory Redding’s nearly nine-minute talk with the media Thursday, someone suggested the Indianapolis Colts defensive end sounded like a football evangelist.
Redding laughed off the comparison, but there’s no doubting the fact he has laid down a few commandments for his defensive teammates.
Stop the run.
Challenge every ball in the air.
And don’t let the offense gain a blade of grass.
Those were the talking points Redding returned to repeatedly following the morning practice at Anderson University. And the 10th-year veteran said those tenets will not change throughout the season.
“You know pudding is pudding,” Redding said. “You can’t mix it up and throw everything else in there. Vanilla wafers, you’ve got banana pudding.
It is what it is, it’s still pudding. That’s the basis of this defense.
You can’t do anything unless you stop the run. You’ve got to have big, stout, kick-behind guys up front with that attitude to stop the run. Guys in the back end that aren’t afraid of cover-one, put bone on bone, man on man, I’m going to cover you all day, let’s go, let’s play football. That’s what this is based on. The whole team concept has to buy in to that, and the moment we buy into that, which we are, we’re going to be great.”
First-year head coach Chuck Pagano lured Redding to join him in Indianapolis from Baltimore for speeches just like that.
There’s an energy about Redding as he’s talking that fills the air and infects all those around him.
It’s easy to envision him as a leader, and it’s a role he relishes.
“That’s part of my personality,” he said. “These guys in the league have seen me play for the past nine years so they know, and guys talk. So guys know who are leaders in this league and who are not. So when I walked into the locker room, day one, it was understood. And it wasn’t the fact that I’m coming in and cracking the whip and saying, ‘Guys, this is me, who I am,’ but they accepted me because this is who I am.
“A person can only fake certain things for so long. There’s no BS, there’s no fair dodging, you know what I’m saying. People can fake it until a certain point, and then after that they can’t do it anymore. This is me all day, uncut and raw. It’s never going to change. So accept me for who I am or get behind me. It’s all about team, and that’s what this thing is all about.”
Redding remembers Pagano saying to him in March, “Cory, I need you.”
And that was enough to convince the 6-foot-4, 315-pounder to pack up after two seasons in Baltimore and move back to the Midwest.
“When I heard that voice come from him, and the sincerity in his voice, like bro, I need you here, that’s what made me forget all others,” Redding said of his brief free agency. “I’m going with you, Chuck. Let’s do this.
I know how important it is to you, and it’s important to me. I wanted to be a part of that change. So here I am.”
A native of Houston, Redding attended the University of Texas and was a third-round pick of the Detroit Lions in 2003. He spent his first six seasons in the Motor City before joining the Seattle Seahawks in 2009.
After one season there, he hooked on in Baltimore and was part of the Ravens’ ride to the AFC Championship Game last year.
Redding seemingly hasn’t lost much with age.
His 4.5 sacks and 43 combined tackles were his highest totals in each category since 2006. In two seasons with Baltimore, he made 85 tackles and
In Indianapolis, he’ll line up at defensive end when the Colts use a 3-4 front. When defensive cooridnator Greg Manusky’s scheme switches to a 4-3 or 4-2, however, Redding is more than able to move inside to defensive tackle.
He understands Pagano’s defensive philosophy as well as any player on the roster, and he will be a key to its on-field success.
“He’s been great, coming from Baltimore with the system they had there and the players they had there,” Manusky said. “He’s a big man that’s playing a big game, and he’s a big leader amongst the guys on the defense. He’s been in the system. He knows what it is, and he’s pulling them all together.”
Redding said he’s been very impressed with how quickly his teammates have bought into the hybrid defensive scheme, but that’s no surprise because the defense has a track record of success.
The Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers have been the most prominent 3-4 goliaths in recent years, but the Houston Texans used a similar scheme to make their first playoff appearance and win their first postseason game last year.
Results like that, Redding said, are why he believes so strongly in this system.
He’s not trying to win hearts and minds in Indianapolis.
He’s just trying to win football games.
“I’m just a football player who loves to compete, man,” Redding said. “I love the opportunity to play football. You don’t get too many of these opportunities. I know this is going on year 10 for me, and I’m just seizing every moment. Like I said, I want this for Chuck just as bad as anybody. So that’s why I’m here busting my butt, preaching team, preaching the things that we need to establish here to get this program where it was and where it needs to be. And that’s on top.”