Former Baltimore Ravens defensive end, Cory Redding, bolted for Indianapolis when free agency began earlier this month, as he joined former Ravens defensive coordinator, Chuck Pagano, who was named the Colts’ new head coach in late January.
While Redding, 31, was a great fit along the Ravens’ defensive line, his exit leaves a void and an opportunity for some of the younger players on the team’s defensive line who played well in 2011.
Pernell McPhee and Arthur Jones each showed signs last season of what they can be, and provided a lot depth on the defensive line. As of this very moment in time, it appears they’re the two leading candidates competing for Redding’s old spot.
McPhee, 23, a fifth-round draft pick out of Mississippi State, was one of the biggest surprises on last year’s team. Playing primarily on third-down and pass-rushing situations, McPhee racked up six sacks, which was good for second on the team behind Terrell Suggs’ 14. In addition, McPhee recorded 23 tackles, two passes defended and one forced fumble, playing in all 16 regular-season games.
Meanwhile, Jones, a fifth-round selection by the Ravens in 2010, finished with 20 tackles and no sacks last season, playing more as a run-stopper than as a pass-rusher.
This dilemma is exactly what the offseason, training camp and the preseason is for, as both McPhee and Jones will have their chance and opportunity to separate themselves from one another, and show the entire coaching staff why they should be named as the team’s starting defensive end.
Let the battle begin.