OWINGS MILLS – Inside the Baltimore Ravens’ locker room, few players inspire as much respect as veteran defensive end Cory Redding.
Unflashy and traditionally undemonstrative, Redding leads his teammates through a gritty, hard-working example and his carefully-chosen words.
“He’s an older guy, he’s a guy we look up to,” linebacker Dannell Ellerbe said. “He helps us out a lot. I would say he picks his spots.”
A franchise player years ago with the Detroit Lions who was once the highest paid defensive tackle in the NFL with a $49 million contract, Redding is the antithesis of the stereotypical spoiled professional athlete.
In his ninth NFL season, Redding, 31, toils away without complaint, or excuses.
And when he finds it fitting, Redding imparts knowledge and wisdom to his younger teammates.
“I am a leader of this team in my own way,” Redding said. “I believe everybody is a leader in their own way. We all know that Ray Lewis is the man, but he can’t do it by himself. We need strong, silent players like myself, all the guys to step up and do their roles in order to achieve the big goal that Ray is trying to accomplish for this team.”
Through strong technique, a blue-collar work ethic and a relentless nature on the football field, Redding has recaptured his old form and is coming off the best game of his tenure with the Ravens in the past two seasons.
Recording a career-high 2 ½ sacks of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith during the Ravens’ 16-6 victory Thursday, Redding provided a boost to the defense as they tied a franchise record with nine sacks.
And his contribution, which included five tackles as Baltimore limited the 49ers to 170 yards of total offense, hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“Cory Redding is one of the best leaders that we have and that we’ve had since we’ve been here,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Very serious-minded guy, but likes to have fun and he’s playing at a really high level. Very talented big man, playing ferocious football right now. He plays in a fury, so I think he fits in real well with our defense.”
Up to 3 ½ sacks for the season, it’s the most for Redding since he registered a career-high eight sacks with the Lions five years ago.
Signed to a two-year, $6 million contract last year, Redding has a total of 69 tackles and 6 ½ sacks in 20 starts since arriving in Baltimore after a quiet one-year stint with the Seattle Seahawks.
The 49ers game was his biggest since he scored a touchdown on a fumble return during an AFC divisional playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last January.
“Just everything fell in place,” Redding said. “I just made the plays when I had the chance. The right blocks were picked up, the right protection was dialed up and I just made the plays. Sometimes, you get your hands on them.
“Everybody on the whole defense was dialed in, focused. We all know what we want to do this year. We’re looking to make that move in December.”
Operating in a more aggressive scheme engineered by defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, Redding has 27 tackles while mentoring rookie defensive end Pernell McPhee.
Redding chalked up his improved numbers to how he has upgraded his comfort level in the defense.
“That’s being around the guys, understanding the scheme of the defense,” Redding said. “Going out and playing with more confidence each week.”
A former Lions third-round draft pick from the University of Texas, Redding has no ambitions of being a star. Not at this stage of his career.
Chasing a Super Bowl ring and adding to the play and camaraderie of a winning team is what motivates him.
“I know my role: do my part and step in and be the leader when I need to,” Redding said. “Leaders are supposed to be in the back when things are good, be in the back and push guys. When things are bad, leaders step up to the front.”
NOTES: The Ravens have claimed safety Emanuel Cook off waivers from the New York Jets and cut rookie linebacker Josh Bynes.
Cook was cut by the Jets on Monday and replaced on the active roster by promoting rookie safety Tracy Wilson from the practice squad.
Cook is a former undrafted free agent from South Carolina who signed with the Jets two years ago.
He was on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ practice squad prior to re-signing with the Jets.
Cook is regarded as a strong special-teams contributor.
In a dozen games, he’s recorded six special-teams tackles with one tackle and one forced fumble from scrimmage.
He has played in eight games this season for the Jets.
Bynes was promoted from the Ravens’ practice squad last Wednesday with inside linebackers Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe sidelined with injuries.
Now that Lewis and Ellerbe are getting healthier, the Ravens have parted ways with Bynes. He’s eligible to rejoin the practice squad. …
Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week.
Suggs registered three sacks, forcing one fumble against the 49ers on Thursday.
It marks the second time he’s been honored by the AFC this season and the third time in his career. It’s the fourth time a Ravens linebacker has won the award this season.
A four-time Pro Bowl selection, the former NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year is the Ravens’ all-time leading pass rusher.
The Ravens tied a franchise record with nine sacks against the 49ers as Suggs tied a career-high for sacks.