Each week, we'll bring you a Q&A with a Ravens player to help you learn a little more about the team. Today's guest is defensive end Cory Redding, who was signed by the organization to a two-year, $6 million contract on March 22. Redding reflected on his transition to a 3-4 defense, high school football in Texas and his golf game.
Question: How would you describe your transition in terms of getting a grasp of this defense?
Answer: I would say it was easy because of the technology that they have here. They loaded up all the plays, all the defenses and stuff, the things we were doing throughout the week that I needed to learn. Then I would take that to my hotel room and study it all night so that by the time I came back the very next day, I was caught up with the defense and the details. That alone helped me tremendously get a grip on this defense really fast.
Q: How much studying did you do?
A: This is my first time playing in a 3-4 defense. The whole terminology, the whole mindset of playing a two-gap system, I had to wrap my mind around it and really just throw everything that I had learned from middle school up to this point out the window and just basically learn football all over again. That's what gave me a new-found appreciation and love for the game because I'm learning so many different things that I thought I already knew, but it's totally different. So I became a student of the game again, which you are every year, but even more this time because I had to be on top of everything.
Q: At times you've dropped back into coverage. Is that something that took an adjustment on your part?
A: We did a little bit of it in Seattle. But whatever the defense calls me to do, I'll go out there and do it. You're taking away an option from the quarterback, who would normally throw a "hot." But if you see a big guy in that window, you'll hold the ball a little longer. Just a little subtle surprise here and there.
Q: You almost picked off New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez when his pass bounced off Jerricho Cotchery and then your hands. How close were you to not only recording your first interception as a Raven, but also your first interception in the NFL?
A: I was getting ready for the tackle because he was my guy. He was in my zone, so I had to take him. And I was ready to hit him, but when I was about to wrap him up, the ball hit his shoulder pad. So now I'm surprised and caught a little off guard. So I'm trying to catch this ball and run, and everything was going through my mind, and I just flat-out dropped the ball. I should've stopped, caught it, and took off running. It's all fun and games since we won. But it was a crucial time, and I could have made a big play but instead we lost, I would have felt bad.
Q: Who is the toughest offensive lineman you've faced in your career?
A: I've faced a lot of great offensive linemen. Larry Allen, I don't care how old he was; he was still a beast. He was still strong. I've gone against Leonard Davis down in Texas. He's a monster. Shaun Andrews, back in Philly, he was strong.
Q: You played high school football in Texas, which served as inspiration for the book "Friday Night Lights." How important is football in Texas and is there a rivalry between Texas and other states like Florida, Pennsylvania and California over which state produces the best football?
A: There will be a real quick, heated discussion over which state is better than the other. I will say that Texas is the best football state, hands-down. We'll go up against California, Florida any day. In terms of how big football is in Texas, "Friday Night Lights" gave you a small picture. They could only fit so much into the book and movie, but I'm telling you that when towns shut down, when teachers know the defenses called, it starts their weekend. You've got Friday night football, colleges on Saturday and then the pros [on Sunday]. If your team wins, you're great that week. If your team loses, it's a bad day in school.
Q: Is it true that some stadiums at Texas high schools can rival stadiums at certain universities and colleges?
A: My high school stadium seats over 10,000 people. We have the same turf that we play on at M&T Bank Stadium. We have a JumboTron with instant replay, concession stands with TVs to show the game while people are standing in line. We have a top-notch, first-class place at North Shore High School. It's nice, man, and that's pretty much the same for most of the schools down in Texas.
Q: Is there an athlete or entertainer today that you would pay to see?
A: I will pay to see Tiger [Woods] play. I will pay to see Usain Bolt run, and I would pay anything to see Michael Jordan get back on the court and play just one more game.
Q: I know you're a big golf fan. What are you shooting when you have time to play?
A: I'm a 100 player. If I'm anywhere near 100, I'm having a great day. I go out just to hit the ball and have fun. But if I'm keeping score, anything between 100 and 110, I'm on cloud nine the whole week.
Q: What's the best part of your game?
A: The best part of my game — believe it or not — is my putting. I'm better at putting than driving the ball because I try to get over-aggressive and drive that ball. I'll slice it hard. My short game, I don't have the finesse right now. I'm too big. I don't know how to gauge the softness or hardness of the shot. So I'll either drive my ball over the green or it just won't even make the green. But if I'm on the green, I can putt. I can feel the curves of the green, find a line, and just make a good attempt. I'm pretty much a two-putt player.
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