During the off-season, the Ravens extended the contract of Bernard Pollard. Coming off his first season with the Ravens, it was apparent why Newsome made this move. Simply put, Pollard exudes Baltimore football. He plays with an intensity and fire that runs deep through the entire squad but especially the defense. Frequently ranked among the top defenses in the league, moves like securing Pollard are crucial in the development of a playoff contending team. Last year, Pollard played in all 16 games and recorded 75 tackles, 2 sacks resulting in the loss of 14 yards, 3 FF, 13 PDs and one INT. I recently had the opportunity to ask the strong safety about his thoughts on his football career, the Ravens’ upcoming season, and some of the off-season issues in the NFL:
With a year passed, what do you feel is your role in the Ravens secondary?
“I feel my role doesn’t change, I have to be accountable just like every other man on our D. I can’t change who I am or try to do too much because that’s when problems happen.”
Is it difficult to have three different defensive coordinators in three years?
“Well this is only my second D coordinator, but the Defense doesn’t change. Coach Pees’ is not Chuck and Chuck will be missed but Pees’ has been here before. Coach Pees’ is ready to lead this D to the promise land and we are PUMPED to get this thing started.”
How was training camp? Should we be worried that Ed Reed wasn’t there?
“Mini Camp was great and no you shouldn’t be worried about Ed. Reed is a pro and understands what he needs to do to get ready for the season. When he shows up for training camp we will all be on one page.”
With Suggs out for an undetermined period of time, how is the rest of the team trying to fill his shoes?
“With Sizzle being out it’s the next man up. Point blank period. We have guys that are oh so hungry to play and show the coaches and fans that they are here for a reason. With that being said we can’t wait till Sizzle gets back.”
Joe Flacco has gotten a lot of grief from the media. Do you feel like he’s stepping into the leadership role well?
“Joe Flacco is playing with a chip on his shoulder. I love the guy and will go to battle with him at the quarterback position over anybody. He played great last season and finished even better; it’s going to be exciting to see him in action this year.”
In your opinion, who is the receiver that is the most difficult to defend? How do you attempt to get the upper edge?
“I get asked all the time who is the hardest receiver to face but to me it’s a hard question because my mentality is “kill” and those guys mindset is way different than that. I’m not a corner so I wouldn’t know who’s harder to cover, my job is to tackle them hard if they catch the ball and I take my job very seriously.”
What was the greatest hit that you’ve had on an opponent and who was the recipient?
“I’ve had a lot of hard hits but the hit I can remember is Reggie Wayne on the sideline this past year. It felt so good because I can never get him. He’s a Hall of Fame receiver and I respect him so much and that’s why I loved it.”
As a player, how do you feel about the discovery of football bounties for injuries?
“Every hit I have viewed on the so called “bounty” claim has been legal. It was one hit that I disagreed with and that was Roman Harper hitting Steve Smith after he scored and that’s it. We get paid to play DEFENSE and last time I checked we have to defend our field. I don’t agree with paying people to go and injure somebody on purpose because that’s a coward move. We as players know what we signed up for and we know at anytime on Sunday or even during the week something can happen and potentially end our season or career. This is a situation where someone has way too much power and wants to show it off; but it’s not his fault. I blame us as players and a union for not addressing that when we had the opportunity to.”
Looking ahead, what do you think the Ravens need to do to get back to the AFC championship game?
“To get to the Super Bowl we need to play Raven football for 16 games and through the playoffs.”
How have you evolved as a player since playing with veterans and learning the team?
“Playing with all these guys has made me a better player. Every man on our D takes his job seriously and all we can do as a defensive unit is be 1 of 11. That means do your job and trust that the next man will do his.”
This upcoming year, the Ravens’ secondary is stacking up to be quite formidable to opponents. Joining Ed Reed, Pollard adds a valuable to depth to the secondary. With a year under his belt and a better understanding of the nuances of the defense, Pollard is set up to have a career year. With the assistance of Lardarius Webb, Jimmy Smith (injured last year) and Cary Williams in the backfield, the Ravens secondary is going to rank among the most elite in the NFL. Last year, the Ravens gave up only 11 passing touchdowns and I expect similar numbers this year.
I want to thank Mr. Pollard again for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk with me and wish him the best of luck in the upcoming 2012-’13 campaign.