Over the past two seasons there have been few players more important to the Colts defense than lineman Cory Redding and he has been one of the best and most consistent performers on the defense since following Chuck Pagano from the Ravens to the Colts.
In his first season with the Colts Redding racked up 36 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 pass deflections, and a fumble recovery while playing in and starting 14 games. Last year, Redding again notched 36 tackles while adding 4.5 sacks, 2 pass deflections, and a fumble recover while playing in and starting 15 games. He is the best pass rusher along the Colts defensive line and has had a great impact along the line too. It's important to note, however, that the role of a defensive lineman in a 3-4 defense like the one the Colts run isn't as much about stats as it is about production, and a lineman is supposed to take up blocks and offensive linemen so that the linebackers can make the plays. Redding does that, sure, but he also produces in terms of stats. He was tenth on the team in total tackles last year but was third in sacks, proving that he is a very effective pass rusher and contributor.
Furthermore, Redding is a team leader who energizes the defense and helps to maintain consistency on an otherwise inconsistent defense. Is he important enough to include on this list, however? I think so, and here's why: for a 3-4 defense to be successful a team needs its defensive linemen to really step up, and the Cory Redding has done that over the past two seasons. Hopefully with the addition of Arthur Jones this offseason some of the pressure is taken off of Redding, but his role on the defensive line is an important one and will have a lot to do with the other aspects of the Colts defense in 2014. The linebackers are affected because they need the defensive linemen to take up blocks and the secondary is affected because they count on the defensive line to generate enough pressure to either get the sack (like Redding has shown he can do) or allow other players to get the sacks (which, for the Colts, are players like Robert Mathis). The defense all plays together as one unit in this view, and it's important that Cory Redding play up to his talent and produce so that the defensive unit plays well as a whole. It's not that Redding is the single most important player to the defense, but he is a very important part of the Colts 2014 success and the team will be counting on him to continue to play the way that he has over the past two years for the Colts when he has been both a team leader and one of the best defenders on the field as well. All expectations are that he will be the same in 2014, and the Colts will need him to be if they want to reach their full potential.
Check out our list counting down the 14 most important players to the Colts' success in 2014:
14. Pat McAfee, punter
13. Anthony Castonzo, left tackle
12. Greg Toler, cornerback
11. Reggie Wayne, wide receiver
10. Cory Redding, defensive lineman