The newest Raven hopped a red-eye at 10:40 p.m., and arrived in Baltimore around 7 a.m. Thursday morning. Pollard’s eyes might have been a bit heavy yesterday, but the five-year veteran safety wasn’t going to let a little jet lag keep him from being out on the practice field with his new teammates later that day.
“I’m ready to play,” Pollard told reporters yesterday after his first practice with the Ravens. “I don’t care what I have to do; I try to prove something to myself every year. And I want to suit up, and I want to help this team win. I really do. The organization is tremendous. Obviously, we’re blessed to have talent, and I’m excited, because I know the history here. I know the rivalries that they have, and I want to be a part of that, I really do.”
If Pollard is known for one thing around the league, it’s for being a big-time hitter. The 6-foot-1, 224-lb. safety is always seeking out contact, and has even gotten his share of fines for illegal hits (he was docked twice last year, including a $40,000 fine in December for hitting Titans receiver Justin Gage in the head when he was considered defenseless).
It’s that hard-hitting, aggressive mentality which has allowed Pollard to rack up over 100 tackles each of his last two seasons, and he feels that attitude and approach to the game will make him a good fit in Baltimore.
“You kind of see the direction that they’re going,” Pollard said. “They want guys that are going to run around and hit you, they want guys that are going to get that ball, they want guys that are going to get after that quarterback, and I fall right into that.
“The biggest thing is just me knowing the type of player I am and the team that would allow me to be that player and not hold back. You look at the players here (and) you have a great cast of players. You’ve got future Hall of Famers. The biggest thing is I was trying to learn so much from Ed (Reed). And, like I said, I want to help this team win.”
From one outsider’s perspective - my own - Pollard’s signing was a bit of a surprise. Given the Ravens’ limited salary cap room and the fact that Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura were already on the roster, it was somewhat unexpected to see GM Ozzie Newsome go out and ink Pollard to a two-year deal.
As training camp goes on, it will be interesting to see how Pollard fits into the depth chart at strong safety. Some fans might already consider Pollard the starter, but in reality, camp could truly serve as an open competition between the newest Raven (who can hit but whose strength isn’t in pass coverage), Zbikowski (who has starting experience in this system) and Nakamura (who might be the most solid of the three in coverage).
“They’re very good players,” Pollard said. “And, competition is very healthy. I don’t know too much about the guys or whatever, but I got a chance to talk to Zibby. Obviously, I played against him (at) Purdue, so I’ve seen him a few times - very good player, very good player.
“I’m excited, because like I said, I don’t want anything handed to me, and I know he’s the same way. And nobody on this team wants anything handed to him. I’m the type of dude where I’m going to hit you in the mouth and I’m going to take it from you. You don’t want to respect me; I’m going to take it from you. And I think every guy on this team is that way, and Zibby is the exact same way. So, it’s going to be fun.”
If it seems like there’s a chip on Pollard’s shoulder, it’s because there is. A second-round pick by the Chiefs in 2006, Pollard was cut by Kansas City prior to the 2009 season. He was subsequently signed by the Texans and started 18 games in Houston the last two years, but was a part of a brutal secondary that allowed the most passing yards in the league last season.
The Texans could have put a tender on Pollard early this offseason, but declined to do so, perhaps giving Pollard further motivation this season. Regardless, the 26-year-old says he’s itching to get out on the field and wreak havoc.
“I’m looking to bounce back, I really am,” Pollard said. “I’m looking to bounce back, and I’m looking to be used, whether it’s blitzing, whether it’s covering, I’m ready to shut people up, because me as a player, I get tired of hearing so many people say things. You try to block it out, but I’m on a mission.”