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Ravens defensive linemanCory Reddingfinally signed his two-year contract on Monday, and he is looking forward to participating in Baltimore's voluntary offseason conditioning program.
It would continue a trend he's followed since he entered the league back in 2003.
"I'm here to work, and I'll be here through it all," Redding said from Ravens headquarters. "That's what I do. From the moment I stepped into the NFL, I haven't missed an offseason. There's a lot that I can bring, and I want fans to expect my all whenever I get on the field, because that's what I've always done. I don't want to talk about it; I just want to work."
It took a few years for that hard work to really pay dividends, though.
In his fourth season with the Detroit Lions, Redding got the break for which he was looking. The former third-round pick out of Texas toiled on the Lions' line solely as an end, putting in quality time as a regular starter.
Then in 2006, Detroit was faced with a dilemma. Starting nose tackle Shaun Rogers was sidelined with a knee injury, and backup Shaun Cody hurt his toe. That meant the 6-foot-4, 292-pound Redding had to move inside to tackle.
He responded with a career-best eight sacks and 70 tackles, which he parlayed into a franchise tag designation and eventually a lucrative seven-year contract reported to be worth $49 million with $16 million guaranteed.
"That was a big year for me," Redding said of his breakout campaign. "I was basically the next biggest guy on the line, so they asked me to go down there. I've been playing both since then."
The Ravens love Redding's versatility.
With Dwan Edwards recently signing with the Buffalo Bills, the Ravens had a hole at the end position. But, Baltimore was looking for more – a player who could split an offensive line from an interior spot on passing downs, while also setting the edge as an end when needed.
"We've been looking for a player that can be an explosive player, both at end and tackle," said Ravens director of pro personnel Vincent Newsome. "We feel that Cory can solidify that for us. He can line up on the edge and do the things that Dwan Edwards used to do, taking on the double-team. And, we think he can shoot the gap inside and get into the backfield."
Redding spent last season with the Seattle Seahawks, where he posted 20 tackles and two sacks. But even though those pedestrian statistics must be noted, the Ravens believe they can – and will – get much more out of Redding, much like the way Edwards flourished under the tutelage of defensive line coach Clarence Brooks.
"We saw a high motor, and that's a trait that we have in our players and want more of," Newsome explained. "We saw that in Dwan. He brought the pass rush and was strong enough to where he could stand up to big blockers.
"You can't take his stint in Seattle as the real Cory Redding. We think there is much more. In our system, we think he can regain that explosive nature that he showed early in his career."
For his part, Redding is holding strong to his sundry talents, and smartly. The Ravens have always been known as a team boasting versatile players, especially on defense.
Now, as he prepares to work out with his new teammates, Redding doesn't feel any added pressure to join that storied unit.
"There are things that I can do well on the outside and the inside," Redding said. "I've always prided myself at being the best I can be wherever I'm setting up. I just love playing football and don't want to be pegged at one position. I want to show that I can do more than just playing one spot. I've been doing that for a few years now.
"With this defense, I looked at Baltimore and always thought it would be fun to fly around with these guys. It's high-energy, it's emotion. They're knocking helmets off. When the Ravens called, I was all ears. This wasn't a hard choice."