ANDERSON – The football evangelist was at it again on Wednesday at Anderson University.
A few days ago, he spoke about the importance of defensive power for the Colts this year, wanting the club to contest every ball in the air and not to relinquish a blade of grass to opposing rushers.
The result – the Colts earned a 38-3 win over St. Louis last Sunday when the team did not relinquish a touchdown, limited the Rams to 68 rushing yards, forced two turnovers and played an aggressive style in their first attempt in a new hybrid 3-4 defense.
This week, the Colts visit Pittsburgh. While Redding was absent last Sunday with an elbow injury, he is back this week. His message to younger players now – this is a business trip, treat it as such.
“(We will) just teach them how to be a pro. How to process work as far as going on the road, staying mentally focused,” said Redding. “Even though we are going to Pittsburgh to play a game, it’s a business trip, so treat it as such.
“Be on time to all your meetings, look at your playbook, studying. You never have too much time to study – on the plane, on the bus, in the meeting room whatever. Treat it as a business trip. Go out there for one reason and one reason only, and that’s to win.”
It is a no-nonsense approach that already has taken root with the team, but the reminder from Redding today was a good reinforcement.
Indianapolis will march into Pittsburgh with nearly half of its playing roster being filled by players with no more than one year of NFL experience. The youthfulness did not show dramatic problems against St. Louis, but this is a sport where a team is measured frequently and publicly.
Redding is experienced in playing in this opposing market, as is Head Coach Chuck Pagano, who matched wits more than once with Bruce Arians when they battled as respective defensive and offensive coordinators with the Ravens and Steelers. The style of team Indianapolis will have this year will resemble those two AFC North clubs, and Redding wants to rumble.
“Oh yeah, I know these guys very well. I’ve already said my piece to the guys on what this game is going to be about,” said Redding. “We don’t take this game lightly because it is preseason. These boys are going to put these pads on and are going to be ready to play. They took a loss against the Eagles but are now back at home, going against their old offensive coordinator (Bruce Arians), so it’s a lot of things built up on this game. Even though it’s a preseason game, it’s going to be pretty big. Put your big boy pads on and get ready to roll.”
Redding liked what he saw from the club last week in his absence and wants more of the same this week.
“Oh no question. The guys not giving up seven points (last week was) huge. That sends a big statement towards what we try and build here on this unit and that consistently works,” said Redding. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the first unit out there, the second unit or the third unit, as long as you stay in your gaps, don’t let the ball get over your head, stop the run, be on the pass and good things will happen, and guys know that.”
Redding returned to practice on Tuesday, his first time back after injuring an elbow in the days leading up to the opener. He downplayed the ailment.
“What elbow? All is good. Even though I’m an old veteran in this league, I heal quick,” said Redding. “I’m getting on the playing field, so that’s all that matters.”
Redding knows the club will be minus the service of linebacker
“That’s one of the things about this league that makes it so great, is it’s a brotherhood,” said Redding. “When one guy goes down, the next man steps up, and that next man has to treat his job like he’s a starter. When he comes in, we shouldn’t miss a beat. He comes in there, he gets all the calls, knows the signals as well.
“It’s just having that mentality of when one man goes down the next man steps up, regardless of what happens, he gets the job done.”
Redding’s wishes match the mandate of Defensive Coordinator Greg Manusky. Manusky is a results-oriented strategist who wants production at every turn.
“We have to pick it up across the board,” said Manusky. “There are no back-up players on a team, that’s what I always say because any situation you can be in the game, and that’s what they have to be.”