Seattle's new defensive lineman hopes to bounce back from knee surgery, 0-16 season with Lions

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RENTON — They don’t make ’em any jollier than Cory Redding. Instead of arguing with a brick wall, the new Seahawks defensive end would try to make it laugh. He’s so positive and merry that he should do some kind of Santa Claus routine to celebrate sacks.

“I’m a man’s man,’ Redding says while introducing himself.

At 6 feet 4 and 292 pounds, no one would ever doubt his assessment. But he’s not talking about brawn.

“What I mean by that is your word is everything,” Redding explains. “Whatever you tell somebody you’re going to do, you do it. You man up to it. That’s what I’ve been all about. What you see is what you get. I’m a man’s man.”

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He’s a character, too, from his distinct Texas twang to a maturity that belies his silly sense of humor. Redding doesn’t talk to people; he captivates them. If his game can rise once again to the level of his charm, then the Seahawks’ defensive line will have the versatile presence it needs.

Right now, Redding is just known as the player the Seahawks received in the Julian Peterson trade five months ago. That deal already looks good because Seattle drafted linebacker Aaron Curry in April, so whenever Curry agrees to a contract, he immediately becomes a high-caliber replacement for Peterson. In theory, the addition of Redding helps balance out the defense’s talent.

As we always say this time of year, we’ll see. Redding must show that he’s fully recovered from right knee surgery that kept him off the field for seven months. Just as critical, however, is that he must move past the embarrassment of finishing 0-16 in Detroit last season.

Go back to the final eight games of the 2007 campaign, and the Lions are 1-23 over the last season and a half. Those struggles began just months after Redding signed what was then the richest contract ever for a defensive tackle, a seven-year, $49 million deal that included $16 million guaranteed.

He was far from the reason the Lions stunk, but his bank account made him an easy target for criticism, and Redding struggled to produce the pass-rushing brilliance that earned him that payday.

In 2006, he shifted from end to tackle for the final 11 games and wound up with eight sacks. Over the past two seasons, he has four sacks. Critics labeled him a one-hit wonder and tried to portray his entertaining personality as nonchalance toward football.

But here’s the great thing about Redding: He brushed it off. He continued to be himself. Now, the man’s man is playing for a team that knows how to use him and cares more about the little things he provides than his sack total.

“He is very wise for his age,” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said of the 29-year-old Redding. “I don’t think anybody would guess he would be in his late 20s. He handles himself in the locker room and on the field like he’s a guy who has been in the league for 13, 14 years. I think that comes with why he [gets] so much respect from the team.”

As long as he doesn’t play like an old man, all will be good.

Redding jokes that he’s “pumping at about 98, 99 percent” right now after recovering from his knee injury. He’s the favorite to start at left end, which will allow Patrick Kerney to move to the right side. On third-down situations, however, Seattle wants to slide Redding inside and utilize his experience as a tackle.

He’s fine with his role. You’d expect nothing less from a man whose license plate includes the letters HTRA, which stands for Have The Right Attitude. Through it all — the losing in Detroit, the difficulty living up to a big contract, the injury — Redding has kept the right attitude. His infectious personality remains. If he helps revitalize the Seahawks’ defense this season, it’ll be a treat to watch the big fella enjoy the success.

“There are no hard feelings about what I’ve been through,” Redding says. “Nothing like that. It’s just part of it. I’m not disappointed at all. As a matter of fact, I’ve thrived on it. Now I’m a part of a great situation.

“You keep pounding that rock. And keep pounding that rock. And no matter how much you think it’s not breaking on the outside, on the inside, it’s cracking. And one day, you hit it, and that rock crumbles.”

Maybe this is his rock-crumbling moment. Maybe this is his time. We should hope so, because big Cory Redding is the kind of good-natured athlete you want to succeed.

He is a man’s man, you know.

Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or, Twitter: @Jerry_Brewer

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