Veteran Cory Redding is finally part of winning team in NFL

December 15, 2010|By Jamison Hensley and Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

It's taken eight years, but Cory Redding is finally part of a winner in the NFL.

Before joining the Ravens, the defensive tackle had only played on losing teams. Six years in Detroit and one in Seattle brought 84 losses and tough finishes to the season.

That's why getting the ninth win of the season Monday night — which clinched a winning season for the Ravens — dominated Redding's thoughts last week.

"That's all I focused on was the No. 9," he said. "I slept with nine fingers under my pillow. I ate my cereal with only nine fingers on my spoon. Everything I did, I had to do it nine times that week."

Named a team captain for Monday night's game, Redding carried his passion onto the field where he recorded a season-high five tackles and one sack. Capturing that ninth win was even sweeter for Redding since it happened in his hometown of Houston.

It's been a tough road for Redding, who has never been part of a team that finished higher than third in its division. Every team except one had piled up double-digit losses in a season, including the historically futile 2008 Lions, who became the first NFL team to go 0-16.

"He's excited about being in the playoff chase," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "This is the first time in his career that he's really had an opportunity to play meaningful games in December."

Redding has talked to guys in the cafeteria and meetings rooms about the need to soak up the experience of this season.

"You can't take these moments for granted," Redding said. "I've been on the other side of that coin. I've been on losing teams and it's hard. It's hard to walk into a locker room where you know you're not going anywhere and these are the last couple of games. These moments are rare. You don't know how many more chances that you'll be on a winning team going to the playoffs."

Heap remains question mark

Ravens tight end Todd Heap said his pulled right hamstring is improving, but he declined to speculate on whether he would be available for Sunday.

"It's feeling better today," Heap said after Wednesday afternoon's practice. "It's getting better every day, so I think I'm day to day."

Heap was one of three Ravens — wide receiver Derrick Mason (ankle) and safety Tom Zbikowski (back) were the others who didn't practice in Wednesday's workout, which was essentially an extended walkthrough. Cornerback Fabian Washington (hamstring) and linebacker Tavares Gooden (calf) had full participation.

Durable Johnson

Outside linebacker Jarret Johnson has always been known for his toughness. Soon he will set the standard for it for the Ravens.

On Sunday, Johnson will tie former linebacker Peter Boulware for the most consecutive games played by a Raven. A fourth-round pick in 2003, Johnson will play in his 111th straight game.

"I can think back to a lot of injuries that I played with and I probably shouldn't have been on the field," Johnson said. "So yeah, it's something to be proud of."

A year ago, Johnson played despite tearing his right labrum in training camp and spraining an AC joint in his left shoulder in Week 2. In 2007, he played with a broken thumb and put up a career-high 94 tackles.

Chilly reception

The Saints could receive more than a cold shoulder when they play at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday.

According to weather.com, the projected high at M&T Bank Stadium is 35 degrees. Although the Saints are 3-3 under coach Sean Payton when they have to play in cold-weather cities in December — including a 34-30 win against the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 5 — New Orleans is accustomed to playing inside the warm confines of the Louisiana Superdome.

"I think everybody prefers a warm climate," quarterback Drew Brees said during a conference call with Baltimore media Wednesday afternoon. "It is what it is. Obviously, we know it's going to be cold and probably windy and maybe snowy up there on Sunday. Whatever the conditions are, we'll just have to adapt and adjust."

According to weather.com, wind up to 15 miles per hour could also play a role, which Payton noted.

"I think the wind can definitely affect the passing game," he said. "I think the wind is probably more of a factor than possibly rain and/or cold temperatures. … You know that the elements are always something you have to pay attention to, and we had to in Cincinnati a couple weeks ago, and I'm certain that we'll have to again Sunday in Baltimore."

D. Reed awarded

After returning a kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown to begin the second half of the Ravens' 34-28 win against the Houston Texans Monday night, rookie David Reed was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week.

The return was the longest in franchise history and was notable because Reed spun out of the grasp of three Texans players before sprinting down the right sideline and running into the end zone untouched.

Reed, whose apartment was searched last week for "possible narcotics," is averaging 29.9 yards on 20 kick returns this season.

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