Ravens debut a strong one for Pollard

It didn't take long for Ravens fans to witness the type of impact that safety Bernard Pollard can make on a defense.

The heavy-hitter earned the nickname "Bonecrusher" back in college (now that's a football nickname, if I've ever heard one), and we saw why last night, as Pollard threw his body around against the Eagles, delivering a couple big hits and making two big plays.

The first highlight came just one snap after rookie quarterback Tyrod Taylor's interception had given the Eagles outstanding field position at the Baltimore 24-yard line, and almost single-handedly, Pollard knocked Philadelphia out of scoring range.

Pollard came clean on a blitz right up the middle, got in the face of Eagles quarterback Vince Young, and forced Young to get rid of the ball under duress. The end result was an intentional grounding flag on the quarterback, which backed the Eagles up 16 yards to the Ravens' 40. Two plays later, the Eagles had to punt.

The five-year veteran also delivered a nice play in coverage, as late in the first half, he read Eagles third-string quarterback Mike Kafka's eyes, broke on the ball, and picked off a lazy pass that Kafka had floated toward wide receiver Johnnie Lee Higgins. Pollard returned the interception 39 yards, giving the Ravens the ball near midfield.

Those two plays were the ones that fans will see on highlight reels throughout the next couple days, but in addition to the blitz and the interception, we got a taste of Pollard's true strength - laying the lumber.

Pollard only had two tackles on the game, but both were given with plenty of pop. That's the safety's nature - again, people call the dude "Bonecrusher" - and on a night where there were plenty of missed tackles, it was nice to see Pollard wrap up properly and stick a couple guys into the turf.

It was an impressive performance from Pollard in his first game in a Ravens uni, but we'll have to see whether it bumps him up on the depth chart.

At this point, Pollard still seems to be trailing Tom Zbikowski (who got the start last night) and Haruki Nakamura in the battle for the starting strong safety job, although some of that might be because Zbikowski and Nakamura have been here and are more familiar with the defensive scheme than Pollard, who just joined the Ravens about a week and a half ago.

There's plenty of time left for Pollard to make an impression on the coaching staff, however. If he keeps playing like he did last night, "Bonecrusher" might be lining up next to Ed Reed when the Ravens open the regular season against the Steelers on Sept. 11.

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