ANDERSON –Sweat pours off the body of Cody Redding when he practices and on Thursday morning after a walk-through, words were forthcoming from the vocal defensive end, too.
These were good words, vibrant ones coming from a defensive mainstay Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano had in Baltimore and a player who also wants that same type of production in Indianapolis.
Redding was direct with his opinion on if this has been a great start of training camp for the defense.
"Oh, yeah, a great start. Guys have responded very well," said Redding. "We had a few days in shirts and shorts to kind of get acclimated to the heat, getting our feet up under each other, pushing and shoving, things we haven't done in months. We threw the pads on, too, and we…flew…around. We got after (each other).
"We were knocking them down. We were running to the ball. The offense was throwing passes down the field, driving the guys off the line, establishing the run. The defense was stopping the run. These are the things we're preaching and establishing now in training camp, and we're doing an excellent job of it."
The Colts have had a number of vocal defensive leaders through its 28 previous seasons in Indianapolis. Redding appears to be one of the most prominent voices for 2012, and that is a good thing. He, defensive tackle Brandon McKinney and safety Tom Zbikowski worked under Pagano in Baltimore, and Redding believes the trio comes in handy as Pagano builds his program with the Colts.
"(He's) the same guy, same mentality," said Redding. "The approach he is having with us as a head coach is the exact, same approach he took the year he was the defensive coordinator with (Baltimore) – straight up, tell it like it is, when the guys are doing good, praise them, when things are kind of off key, so to speak, you throw the bullet and the guy takes it in the middle of the head. That's the way we have to do it. He's that kind of guy.
"It's (the presence of the Ravens trio) very important, because it (Pagano's message) can be misinterpreted sometimes. Guys can react a certain way but have all three voices in the locker room to kind of let the guys why Chuck said what he said, why Chuck is doing some of the things he's doing, it kind of eases the guys' minds, 'Okay, we'll trust the system. We'll trust you guys because you've been in it, you understand him and you know him. We'll go ahead and trust it.' "
Indianapolis still has its share of returning veterans like Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, Pat Angerer, Jerraud Powers and Antoine Bethea, too, and Redding cites their maturity in the wake of change.
"That's (willingness to learn a new system) a credit to the guys in the locker room who have been there before us," said Redding. "They're willing to accept change. Change is great, and this one will be great. As long as everybody gets on board, we'll be fine. … These guys are hungry, and these guys want to be great."
Redding played the last two seasons in Baltimore under Pagano. When Pagano moved west, Redding says the coach recruited him not only for his vocal nature, but because Pagano respected the overall player and how he could assist in building the program.
"No question. Not necessarily that he brought me in for that (being vocal), that's who I am," said Redding. "As long as I possess that, it's what has carried me this far. Why quit? That's who I am as a person, and Chuck understands that. That's why I was the first person he went for as far as understanding this system and understanding how to get the program built here. He said, 'Cory, I need you.' When I heard that voice come from him and the concern in his voice like, 'Bro, I need you here,' that's what made me forget all others, 'I'm going with you, Chuck, and let's do this. I know how important it is to you, and it's important to me. I want to be a part of that change.' So, here I am."
Redding says it is not hard being a vocal leader with a new team. It is the only style he knows.
"That's part of my personality. These guys in this league have seen me play for the last nine years. They know and guys talk. Guys know who leaders are in this league and who's not," said Redding. "When I walked in the locker room on day one, it was understood. It wasn't the fact that I'm coming in cracking a whip and chain, 'Guys, this is who I am.' They accepted me because that's who I am.
"A person can only fake certain things for so long. There's no BS-ing. People can fake it to a certain point. After that, they can't do it anymore. This is me, all day, unplugged. It's never going to change. Accept me for who I am, or get behind me."
As for the message, Redding does not want anyone to think it is about one player. The Pagano message is inclusive of every corner of the locker room.
"It's all about team," said Redding. "That's what this thing is all about, and that's what I'm preaching to the guys, 'It's all about team. There's no one person bigger than the other.' I'm just helping, because I'm that voice in the locker room, along with Big B (Brandon McKinney) and Zibby (Tom Zbikowski), to let these guys know it is about the team. There's nothing fake about that. Let's go get us a championship and follow us."
It is hoped Indianapolis can replicate the type of defensive presence of which Pagano was a part with the Ravens. Redding knows the nature of such a unit.
"(It's) what you see out there every day when we're running around, flying to the route, hitting guys, challenging any ball that's in the air, stopping the run, not letting the offense get a blade of grass. That's our mind-set," said Redding. "That's (Cover-2) in the past. This is looking forward – a new system, a new scheme, a new attitude. The attitude is, 'Stop the run, period. Get on the passer.' Point-blank, and that's it."
Redding is like his teammates when it comes to emptying the bucket physically on the practice field to improve. He has been known to fill the bucket as well, but that is to cool off in the practice conditions. Onlookers the other day at Anderson University may have seen Redding dunk his head in water to help beat the heat. Those who missed it may start watching.
"Oooh, yeahhhh. That's training camp, man," said Redding. "Heat exits through the head, the hands and the feet. I have no hair right now, and there's a lot of heat exiting this big, old head of mine. I've got to go over there and cool off every now and then. It helps me stay cool. I know my body. Certain things happen to me in the heat. I have to keep my body cool. … People already know that (bucket) is for that purpose only. There's nothing else going on. You dunk your head in there."