INDIANAPOLIS – One thing mentioned by Chuck Pagano when he was hired as head coach of the Colts on January 25 was that he was a person who valued relationships with players.
Both Indianapolis Owner and CEO Jim Irsay and General Manager Ryan Grigson mentioned the special knack Pagano has with his players, whether they are young in their career or if they are crusty veterans.
Indianapolis now has visual proof as defensive end Cory Redding has migrated from Baltimore to the Colts to play for Pagano as he starts his head coaching career.
"It's always a great opportunity when someone wants you and you can continue playing your childhood dream, and that's in the NFL," said Redding. "I believe my time was up in Baltimore and Chuck (Pagano) came calling. My relationship up there with Chuck over the last two years made this decision very easy. (The Colts) stepped up to the plate and showed how serious they want me. That's why I'm here. It's mostly on Chuck, my relationship with him and wanting to come here and do something special with the Colts."
Redding played the last two seasons in Baltimore, starting 11 of 15 games in each season. Pagano was the secondary coach in Redding's first season before moving to the coordinator role in 2011. Redding totaled 43 tackles, 29 solo and 4.5 sacks, while defensing two passes and recovering one fumble. He started one of the club's two playoff games as the Ravens played New England for the AFC Championship.
Redding had 38 tackles, 29 solo, three sacks, four passes defensed and one interception in 2010. He also returned a fumble 13 yards for a touchdown at Pittsburgh in the Divisional Playoffs.
Redding was an important cog in a talented Baltimore defense that featured a 3-4 alignment, but offered other wrinkles as well that hindered opponents. Indianapolis has not employed a 3-4 set since the early 1990s. Pagano will go about using his personnel here while heading in that direction, but his emphasis is putting players in position to succeed. Redding is all-in with whatever is asked.
"I'm equally (comfortable) playing wherever, whether it's a 3-4 or 4-3. It doesn't matter," said Redding. "Whatever Chuck (Pagano) dials up and has me in the scheme, as long as I am on the field, I'm going to go hard. Regardless of where they put me, I'm going to use my God-given ability to do what I have to do to make a play and help the team."
Redding will have working knowledge of what is to come for the Indianapolis defense. He will contribute to the learning process, while also drawing on his expertise from nine previous years in the league and meshing with his new teammates.
"I believe I possess leadership qualities, and I'm a leader in my own way," said Redding. "There are times to lead in the front when things aren't going good and there are times to lead in the back when teams are doing well, pushing and pulling your teammates to do great things, rise above and to make plays. I believe I possess those qualities in my own unique way.
"There are also leaders in this locker room. I just talked with (Robert) Mathis. He's very excited. I know he's a leader here on this team. This team has a lot of guys who have been in the trenches and have been in this fight for a long time. They still love the game of football and have leadership qualities. I'm just coming in to fill in where I can, help out any void that I see, help develop younger guys acclimate to this system a lot quicker that I've learned the last two years, do what I can for the city of Indianapolis and help the team win, period."
Redding has seen different approaches during his years with Detroit, Seattle and Baltimore. He believes a positive approach and being attentive are keys for success.
"If you're coachable and you're willing to learn, it's going to be easy to figure out the system and know what to do," said Redding. "The biggest thing towards that is having a positive attitude, have an open mind, be willing to learn every single day, staying in the playbook and tapes until you get it.
"With Chuck's (Pagano) history, I know how he approaches every day and bringing guys in slowly. I saw how he worked with the younger guys the last two years. He brought them in slowly and they understood the package to, when they got on the field, there was no guessing. They knew exactly what to do when the ball was hiked. That's the process he's going to have here, learning real slow with the guys so they can grasp all of the concepts, verbiage and everything. With me helping out and kind of backing him up on certain things he says, I believe will help the guys learn a lot faster. It's going to be a learning curve. We have a lot to learn. We have a whole offseason and preseason to get everything ironed out."
As for his head coach, Redding already has a complete understanding of what others will learn about Pagano.
"He's a man's man. He treats you like a man," said Redding. "All he requires out of you is to give him your best. He puts you in right situations to go out there make plays. He's a down-to-earth kind of guy and a family man. In our defensive meeting room, it was kind of like a professional meeting. We kept it loose and enjoyed ourselves, but we stayed focused and got the job done. It was all a credit to Chuck and how he commanded the room and commanded everyone to listen and pay attention to the minute details so we could be successful on the field. At the same time you can have fun doing this as well. That's what I enjoyed about Chuck. I'm excited to continue my relationship with him, to play for him and continue to do good things."