OWINGS MILLS – Cory Redding doesn’t stop, never halting his aggressive pursuit on the football field.
The Baltimore Ravens’ veteran defensive end is always chasing the football, charging low and arriving in a nasty mood.
Good-natured off the field, Redding is the one who organizes locker room games. On the field, he’s got a mean disposition and an old-school personality.
"I was raised on the three R’s: reckless, relentless and ruthless," Redding said. "If you play on defense, you can’t be a nice guy out there. Playing on defense, you have to have that tough, rough mentality to be successful on defense."
Redding has played on losing teams for the majority of his career, including the embarrassment of being part of the 2008 Detroit Lions – the only team in NFL history to go 0-16.
Signed by the Ravens to a two-year, $6 million contract this spring following a rough season with the Seahawks last season in the wake of being traded by Detroit in exchange for linebacker Julian Peterson, Redding is intent on establishing himself as a hard-nosed presence at the line of scrimmage.
"I bring experience and a little wisdom and toughness to the game," Redding said. "My guys know they can count on me running to the ball, filling gaps and hustling. In the grand scheme, it’s not one of us out there. It’s about all of us. That’s how I try to play."
After plummeting to 20 tackles and two sacks last season in three starts and 15 games in Seattle on a team that won only five games, Redding is convinced that he’s primed for a major turnaround season.
Redding has enjoyed the big contract, receiving $16 million in guaranteed money from the Lions three years ago as the highest paid defensive tackle in the NFL at the time.
And he’s been productive with 220 career tackles and 18 sacks.
What has eluded him, though, is that consistent winning feeling.
"I’ve always had hope," Redding said. "Through it all, through perseverance in Detroit and Seattle, I knew I would win again and be on a winner. It’s just a blessing in disguise to be here.
"I’m one of the old heads now. I don’t have many chances left. I’ve got to make the most out of the situation, and that’s what I plan to do."
And the Ravens like the leadership and unselfish attitude that Redding embraces.
In Redding, they see a player who’s not here to simply collect a paycheck.
"Cory’s just a great leader," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He’s very mature. He’s really a hungry player. He’s a veteran guy that still has that hunger.
"He’s got a great passion, really works hard, kind of out front with the younger guys, showing the guys how to be professionally in everything they do. Plus, he can play. So, it’s been a real good plus for us."
Redding, 29, is healthy again after battling injuries and multiple personnel changes last year with the Seahawks.
During routine practices at training camp, Redding ran around like a man much younger than his years. His intensity is obvious, even during a conversation about the game.
"Yeah, I feel great," Redding said. "I feel really good, strong and ready to play and ready to get after it. I’ve got a lot of energy. This is the best I’ve felt in probably four years."
Four years ago, Redding recorded a career-high eight sacks with the Lions.
That prompted management to sign him to a seven-year, $49 million contract, a controversial figure at the time.
However, he tore his rotator cuff the following season and fell to one sack even though he started every game.
One year later, Redding dislocated one knee and tore the meniscus in his other later that season as the Lions went 0-16.
Redding dismissed the notion that he might be playing with a chip on his shoulder to prove that he’s still the player he was four years ago.
"The moment you do that, you set yourself up for failure," he said. "Every year, poses different situations. I battled injuries, personnel changes, things that were out of my control. What I can control is how I hard I play. There’s no chip. It’s just about going out there and trying to get better."
Redding is capable of playing defensive end or defensive tackle, rare versatility that prompted the Ravens to make him a priority in free agency.
At a fit 6-foot-4, 295 pounds, Redding appears to be well-suited for the Ravens’ multiple 3-4 scheme as he’s assumed the starting defensive end job vacated by Dwan Edwards when he signed with the Buffalo Bills this offseason.
The Ravens plan to line up Redding in multiple spots to take full advantage of his skills.
"A lot of guys are really one-dimensional in this league," Redding said. "I learned early in my career that the more you can do the better. I took it upon myself to learn tackle and end just in case my number was called. Sure enough, we had two or three guys go down in Detroit and my number was called.
"I started to really understand the position and the demands and how do I prepare my body for that. I learned the inside pass rush. I started watching tape and that really helped my career as far as my game, going from inside to outside."
With the Seahawks’ 4-3 defense, Redding was responsible for disrupting plays by penetrating the backfield.
In Baltimore, Redding is often asked to stack blockers to keep the linebackers free to flow to the ball and make the tackle. He also gets his opportunities to make an impact.
"That’s the biggest adjustment," Redding said. "In the 4-3 scheme, I was always asked to make plays and get after the ball . Now, I’m taking on two people. That’s what’s new to me. I’m trying to get used to it because that’s what this system calls for.
"I’m building chemistry with these guys, hanging out with them. Once we cross that chalk on the field, it’s a battle. I’m happy with my decision to come here.
Redding says he came to Baltimore for one reason: to win a Super Bowl.
He’s experienced more than his share of losing outcomes. Now, he wants to savor the feeling of winning after joining a team that has been to the playoffs in consecutive seasons and has been widely labeled as a Super Bowl contender heading into this season.
"That’s it," Redding said. "If you get in this game, that’s what it should be all about. Everybody gets caught up in what the game can do for you. At the end of the day if I’m banging my head against a brick wall for 60 plays, I’m playing for hardware and not anything else."