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His versatility is vital

Posted Jul 23, 2009

Acquired in a mid-March trade with the Detroit Lions, Cory Redding plans to make up for his lost time from injury when training camp practices begin July 31.

For a player who epitomizes that credo of  “the more things you can do,” Cory Redding did very little in his three months as a member of the Seahawks.

That’s because the versatile defensive lineman who was acquired in a mid-March trade with the Detroit Lions was recovering from a dislocated right kneecap. But Redding plans to make up for his lost time when training camp practices begin July 31.

Just where Redding will find himself remains to be seen, because he has the skills and size to play end on first and second downs and slide inside to tackle on third down. That’s the role the Seahawks envision for a player they have been interested in since he came out of the University of Texas in 2003.

“Cory Redding is a guy we’ve had our eye on for some time,” club president Tim Ruskell said after the Seahawks gave up a lot (Pro Bowl linebacker Julian Peterson) to get a player who can do a lot.

“We liked him coming out of Texas because of his versatility to play inside and out, and also because of the type of person he is. This gives us another big, physical presence along the defensive line and someone who can play at multiple positions.”

The Seahawks also were interested in Redding when he was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in 2007, but the Lions placed their franchise tag on him and then signed Redding to a long-term contract.

For Redding, 28, the trade gives him a new lease on a career that careened out of control last season when the Lions went 0-16 and he missed the final three games after starting all 16 games the previous four seasons.

“Just to have the opportunity to play this game is truly a blessing,” Redding said. “To play for a team that is committed to winning makes it even better, and you can just tell that this organization is committed to winning.”

Redding’s addition looms large in upgrading the D-line. The Seahawks also signed nose tackle Colin Cole in free agency, a move that has allowed Brandon Mebane to move to the three-technique tackle spot. At the right end position that was shared by Darryl Tapp and Lawrence Jackson last season, the coaches are challenging each to play better this season. At left end, the club is hoping for a full recovery – and full season – from Patrick Kerney, whose 2008 campaign ended after seven games because he needed shoulder surgery.

Consider Redding the “what if?” factor, because he can step in at either end spot as well as the three-technique tackle position.

In addition to his versatility, Redding also brings some toughness and tenacity to the mix – elements Ruskell and coach Jim Mora were seeking, as evidenced by the signings of Cole and cornerback Ken Lucas and the selection of linebacker Aaron Curry with the fourth pick in April’s NFL draft.

But too much of Redding’s spring was spent riding a stationary bike and doing other rehab work during the team’s minicamp practices as he completed his recovery from knee surgery.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Redding said of finally getting to participate in some individual drills during the team’s final minicamp in June. “But my goal every single day was to get back on the field and do what I like to do – which is play football.

“Believe me, I prefer being out here in the sun rather than having Reggie (Barnes, an assistant trainer) killing me every day.”

Redding is not used to standing and watching – or riding and watching. He moved into the Lions’ starting lineup at left end in his second season, then made the switch to tackle midway through the 2006 season after Shaun Rogers, Shaun Cody and Marcus Bell went down with injuries.

Wherever he played, Redding produced – including a career-high eight sacks in 2006 and a career-best 78 tackles in 2007. He also was voted a defensive captain his final two seasons in Detroit.

Redding weighed as much as 300 pounds while playing tackle, but he plans to play closer to 285 this season. Even at the lower weight, Redding will be heavier than Kerney (278), Jackson (271) and Tapp (270).

“I feel like I can drop down and play the end position, and also keep my strength whenever I’m out in that three-technique,” Redding said. “I’m comfortable playing both. I just love playing football.”