Pollard’s return would be a welcome addition as the Ravens are faced with the challenge of slowing the New England passing game.
The Patriots will reportedly be without tight end Aaron Hernandez, who suffered an ankle injury in a surprising loss to the Arizona Cardinals Sunday. However, All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski will be on the field as the Ravens will try to erase the memory of what Philadelphia tight end Brent Celek was able to achieve against their secondary.
Celek caught eight passes for a game-high 157 yards as linebackers and safeties struggled to find him in zone coverage and often didn’t appear to be on the same page. Though Pollard’s absence after the first quarter undoubtedly impacted the defense, Celek caught four passes for 68 yards in the game’s first 15 minutes, eliminating any notion that Pollard was the missing link in shutting down the tight end.
“It’s got to be addressed. We didn’t do a good job of covering him, obviously,” Harbaugh said. “It wasn’t so much that the tight end per say got free, it was more issues with our coverage with the way we handled our basic coverages. For different reasons, different coverages that are fundamental coverages, we got skewed a little bit. We got skewed chasing some routes, we got skewed chasing Michael Vick scrambling at times. It created imbalances in our coverage, and I think they took advantage of that with their tight end.”
It doesn’t figure to get any easier against Gronkowski and the plethora of weapons the Patriots have at their disposal.
Replacement officials review
Asked whether there was anything he or the other 31 NFL head coaches could do to influence the league’s current labor dispute with the regular officials, Harbaugh took the diplomatic approach after describing Sunday’s game as “chaotic” in nature.
“That’s out of our hands,” Harbaugh said. “We do have confidence in the league in the way they approach the officials, both in the short term and in the long term. We’ll trust them to take care of that, and we’ll focus on our jobs getting our teams ready.”
Notable players such as Flacco and veteran linebacker Ray Lewis criticized the officiating following Sunday’s loss, which drew criticism that the Ravens were deflecting responsibility for their shortcomings. Asked whether he had addressed the comments made by his players, Harbaugh quickly ended the opportunity to discuss the replacement officials any further.
“I’m not going to have any comment about it, whatsoever, in any way, shape, or form,” Harbaugh said. “And I’m just going to leave it at that.”
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