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Pollard gets fresh start in Baltimore

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Posted Dec. 03, 2011 @ 10:34 p.m. ET
By Mike Wilkening

Two years ago, SS Bernard Pollard helped lead a defensive turnaround in Houston.

Last year, when Houston's pass defense faltered mightily, his play came under criticism. By the beginning of this offseason, the Texans signaled they would be looking to replace him.

Pollard's story isn't an uncommon one. Players come into favor and fall out of favor all the time.

What's unique about this story, however, is that it had a happy ending.

In August, Pollard signed with the Ravens. Initially, he backed up starting SS Tom Zbikowski, but he eventually took over the starting job, and he's proven a solid fit opposite FS Ed Reed for one of the NFL's top defenses, notching 53 tackles and six passes defensed.

Pollard relishes playing for the Ravens' coaches, who allow him to play the way he prefers, which he said was not always the case in Houston or Kansas City, where he began his career.

"Coach (John) Harbaugh and (the coaches) are like, 'No, no, no — you be you,' " he said. " 'We want you. We want the player you are.' "

He has also enjoyed playing with Reed, one of the game's top playmaking defensive backs.

"Playing on the other side of Ed, man, it's so much fun," Pollard told PFW this week. "He knows the game inside and out."

How has Pollard learned from Reed? And how do the safeties complement each other? Pollard shed some light on the subjects.

"Being in a 4-3 system, I was a part of the run game. I had to be. We had gap control," Pollard said. "Now, being in the 3-4, you have no gap control. It's strictly pass defense for the secondary.

"For me, I tend to watch the run game first and then watch the pass. But Ed's all pass. And he's like, 'Hey, we're going to fill in where we need to fill in at.' So I kind of let him know about the run game and he lets me know about the pass game."

Pollard was a key part of a good defense in Houston, and he was a key part of a bad one. He has moved on.

"At the end of the day, what's done is done," he said. "And I'm excited to be able to be here, like I tell so many people.

"I think one of (the) sportswriters said I was declining. And I'm looking like, 'I'm 26 years old. How do you decline at 26?'

"But nevertheless, I'm so blessed to be in the position that I'm in (and) to have the opportunities that have been in front of me, and I'm taking advantage of it every day."

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