Redding: Best I've Felt In Four Years

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As Ravens players wildly celebrated the end of organized team activities in Thursday's post-practice locker room, free agent veteran defensive lineman Cory Redding sat at his locker away from the fracas.

But don't be confused by Redding's cool demeanor; he's happy too. In fact, he's happier than he has been in a long time.

Redding is finally healthy after a string of injuries the past several years and he's playing for a winning franchise for the first time in his career. Those two factors have him smiling on the inside.

"This is the best I've felt in probably four years," Redding said.

After recording a career-high eight sacks in 2006, Redding signed a reported seven-year, $49 million deal with the Detroit Lions that made him the highest-paid defensive tackle in football.

Then his career started to take some hits.

He tore his rotator cuff in 2007, leading to a disappointing one-sack season and a rehab process that took almost a full year. Redding returned in 2008, but dislocated his knee cap in October and tore his meniscus tendon in the other knee in early December, which officially ended his 2008 season.

Partly because of his contract, Redding became a lightning rod for criticism in Detroit as part of the NFL's first-ever 0-16 team.

He was jettisoned to Seattle in a trade for Pro Bowl linebacker Julian Peterson and hopes ran high that a switch from defensive tackle to end would lead to a resurgence in sacks. But Redding recorded just two sacks and 20 tackles in three starts on the NFL's 24th-ranked defense.

The Seahawks won just five games and changed coaching staffs. And Redding, who was playing on a one-year deal, wasn't brought back as a free agent.

"It's been rough my past four years," Redding said. "With the road I took, I'm glad I'm still here."

Baltimore was a place Redding long respected from afar. It's a fresh start with a two-year contract.

"I saw how [the Ravens] approach the game every weekend," Redding said. "Making plays, having fun, that's what a defense should be about. To be in a program where guys really, truly approach their job with all seriousness is nice."

Physically, Redding is feeling 100 percent during an offseason for the first time since 2007. He was a participant in the Ravens' voluntary offseason workouts and has showed his athleticism while playing multiple positions on the line during organized team activities.

Redding is going to be relied on in Baltimore, as he was signed as a replacement to Dwan Edwards, who departed for Buffalo after becoming a starter last season.

"The way I feel, where I'm at in this system, where I believe we're headed as a team, there's no question in my mind that if they needed me to be a starting defensive end this year for 16 games, I'm that guy," Redding said.

"If we had to play on Sunday, I'd be ready to play. That's how good I feel."

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