Cory Redding came to the Arizona Cardinals with 12 years of NFL experience under his belt.
Never a star in the true sense of the word, the third-round pick of the Detroit Lions in the 2003 NFL Draft has been a solid and productive defensive lineman, racking up 35.5 sacks over stops with the Lions, Seattle Seahawks, Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts.
This season, in Arizona, he has collected three total tackles along with one interception, which came in last Sunday’s win over the Lions. The victory improved the team’s record to 4-1, and the way Redding sees it, much of the success can be credited to the team’s mentality.
“When you have Josh (Mauro), when you have Rodney Gunter, you have Xavier (Williams), Calais (Campbell), Frostee (Rucker), myself, you have a lot of guys that have been around each other for a while, have seen other guys play from around the league, now we’re all together,” Redding told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Tuesday morning. “Really good, high IQ football, but at the same time really good people.”
Redding said when you get players who have good attitudes and are good men, “it’s easy to go out there and play and lay it on the line for the man next to you.”
The veteran said the Cardinals have something special in their defensive line room as well as their defense as a whole, and while the team could very easily be 5-0, having one loss on their record right now isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Redding said if mistakes are going to be made, he’d rather them be now.
“I would like to welcome the mistakes so we can continue to tweak them and mold them and change them and come up with different ways to attack different guys from our schemes and protections and stuff like that,” he said. “I want to play our best ball in January and February.”
That big picture viewpoint is one that Redding has likely learned over the course of his career. His experiences on different, successful teams gives him a track record that not everyone in the locker room has. Though this is his first season in Arizona, he is already looked at as one of the team’s leaders.
“The biggest thing is you have to be yourself,” he said of how that happens, adding you can’t act one way with one team and then come to a new team trying to be someone different. “Just be yourself. As long as you do that and not come in loud and just demanding the roles that I was given or earned on other teams from Day 1, it makes it easy for the guys to welcome you.”
Redding said when he arrived in the desert his goal was to lead from the shadows because, in reality, there were already plenty of leaders already on the roster. He pointed to Larry Fitzgerald, Campbell, Rucker, Carson Palmer, Patrick Peterson and Rashad Johnson.
“You have all these great leaders here, why would I come in here and try to step on their toes? No,” he said. “So I’m going to go ahead and piggyback off of them, step in and say things when I absolutely need to. When I feel like a panic button is being pushed, then I’ll say something.
“But other than that, I’m sitting back, helping the young boys, piggybacking off of the veteran leaders that are here and just playing hard ball when I can for my teammates when my number is called.”
That will be the plan for as long as they are calling his number. At 34 years of age, Redding understands his career is closer to its end than its beginning. He’s been to the playoffs five times, including the AFC Championship Game with the Colts last season. He’s never reached the Super Bowl, though. Add it all together and it’s no wonder he has no trouble getting motivated for games.
“That’s who I am because I know in the blink of an eye this game can be taken away from me,” he said. “And I’m truly blessed with skills and talent that a lot of people on this earth would wish to have. A lot of folks wish to walk, a lot of folks wish to talk, and to hit, and to move and to run, I can do these things on a daily basis.
“So I’m truly blessed, so why not go out there and maximize on the gifts that I was given on the field every Sunday? Why not? Why hold back? Because once this Sunday is gone, that game is gone. When it’s triple zeros on the clock I will never get that opportunity back again. So go out there and lay it on the line one more time.”
Redding added that unlike other sports, football guarantees just 16 games per season, meaning you have precious few opportunities to make an impact.
“Anything after that is extra, that’s a bonus,” he said. “So I’m trying to go, my teammates are trying to go as hard as we can because we know these games in September and October set us up for December and January, and that’s where we want to be.
“We want to be in the top, strong going into the playoffs. We don’t want limp in trying to get a win just to be a Wild Card — forget that. We’ve got too much talent on this team to do that. So I’m always up. That’s just me, and that’s Calais and everybody else on this team. That’s what I like about it.”
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