Ever since Bernard Pollard played his way onto the field at M&T Bank Stadium this season one thing has been apparent. Bernard Pollard plays like a Raven.
Pollard was drafted in the second round by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2006 draft. He was known as the "Bone Crusher" in college at Purdue for his violent and jarring hits and tackles. Pollard's final year at Purdue was marred by altercations with coaches, the height of which occurred in the beginning of the season when he asked his head coach to "Give me my papers", indicating the preference to transfer. Tiller did not grant the transfer request, but the incident proved a precursor to a tumultuous final year. Despite this Pollard still compiled 92 tackles (64 solo), 3 interceptions, 3 pass break-ups, 1 fumble recovery and 1 blocked punt. His 5 blocked punts are still a Purdue record. Bernard has always been a fiery player and now that he is a bit older he knows where to take out his anger, on the football field.
When the season started Pollard was second on the depth chart behind Tom Zbikowski. Although known for his tackling and blitzing ability, the knock on Bernard was that he struggled in coverage and could not be counted on in man-to-man situations. Pollard started to force his way onto the field in the limited snaps he saw and soon had out-played Zbikowski. When Zbi went down with an injury, Pollard solidified himself as the starter by always being around the ball. From that point until this past Sunday, when Pollard recovered the fumble that basically saved the game for Baltimore he has been a force to be reckoned with for the Ravens.
In playing as well as he has Pollard may have outplayed his counterpart in the secondary, Hall Of Famer Ed Reed this season. In a year that Reed has been practicing his arm tackles due to an ever present neck injury, Bernard Pollard has been knocking people out.
Baltimore has welcomed several new play-makers to the defense this season and it may not be a minute too soon as the wear and tear of all the years playing defense at a high level may be starting to take their toll on their stars of old. Twice on one play against the Bengals did a superstar from Baltimore whiff on a tackle of the ball carrier during Bernard Scott's touchdown run in the third quarter (Ed Reed and Ray Lewis). Then on the other hand there is a guy like Pollard, that didn't get voted to the Pro Bowl, making key plays all over the field. I will always love Reed and Lewis but this bye week is just what the doctor ordered for these aging superstars. We are lucky to have guys like Pollard, Haloti Ngata, Lardarius Webb, and Terrell Suggs to pick up the slack when other teams get the jump on us.