BY Rick Teverbaugh CNHI News Service
The Washington Times-Herald
ANDERSON — Defensive end Cory Redding is hardly ever at a loss for words and after Tuesday morning’s walk-through, he kept that tendency alive.
Redding is entering his second season with the Indianapolis Colts but his 11th season overall. He has emerged as a vocal leader on the team.
His overall assessment of the progress on both sides of the ball reveals his optimism and gift for gab.
“Both sides of the ball are winning,” he said. “Offense is progressing every single day. Protection scheme is getting firmer. All the calls and checks they’re making are great. The ball is getting completed down the field. The running backs are finding the creases in the defense to get the extra yards. On the same side of that coin, the defense, we’re really flying around. We have a more familiar, getting familiarized with the system. Guys are more comfortable now, year two in this defense and just flying around a lot faster. So, both sides of the ball, we’re making plays. That’s what you want to have right now in training camp.”
Obviously his primary concern for Redding is the defense. He didn’t hesitate to describe his favorite aspect of this year’s unit.
“What I like best is you’re not handicapping guys,” said Redding. “You’re not handcuffing them and telling them you have to do this and you have to do that. In this defense it’s interchangeable positions. I can play an end or a nose or a three technique. I can stand up if I want to. I can put my hands down. I have the freedom, and all the guys on the defense have the freedom to do whatever they have to do to get the job done. That’s what I like about it. You just fly around. You never know who is coming and who is not. You can’t really key on too many guys because everybody is interchangeable. You have to learn multiple positions to be very successful in this defense. If you don’t, then offenses can key on this guy, ‘He’s always on the left, he’s always doing this, now when we see that we’re going to attack him.’ But If he lines up on the right, or lines up in the middle or lines up off the line, you can’t really tell what they’re going to do.”
Redding’s view is that the defensive linemen are not in the glory positions. They aren’t the ones who are supposed to be in the post-game highlight reels.
“We, up front, the main emphasis is to absorb people,” he said. “You don’t really want to have a 260 or 270 guy down on the front line that’s going to get ate up. You want big 300-pound guys demanding two so you keep the linebackers free. You want them to make the plays. If you come off, and beat your guy and you make tackle, yes that’s a plus. Great for you, but that really wasn’t your play to make. That’s the linebacker’s play. We have to eat up two guys if we can every single play to keep our linebackers free. If you so happen to get off and make a play, that’s excellent. That’s pretty much what it’s all about.”
Last season Redding had 46 tackles in his 14 games. He also had two sacks and a fumble recovery. He believes this year’s team will be better than a year ago.
“In my mind, it’s night and day,” said Redding. “Last year, we did some good things, but still we needed a lot of work against the run, a lot of work against the pass, a lot of work at different things and scheme-wise. It’s night and day, man. We have the body size, the type of men that are built for this system and have played in this type of system around other teams, so all they have to do is learn the terminology. It’s night and day, man. We’re so much better now at this point than we were last year at training camp.”
And the defense is designed to be extremely stingy. That’s a mindset that is being absorbed.
“You don’t want to give the offense a blade of grass,” said Redding. “That’s the mentality of a defender. You don’t want them to cross your goal line. That’s the mentality of a defender. So, at the end of the day you want to get better but you do not want to lose. You want to win. You want to keep stacking wins because it transforms from the practice field to the game field. At the end of the day, both sides of the ball are getting better. Offense has their moments, we have our moments. At the end of the day, as the mindset of a defender, I don’t want to give up this blade of grass. That’s what it’s got to be.”