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New Titan Bernard Pollard wants to leave past behind

9:33 AM, Apr 17, 2013   |    comments
Bernard Pollard, as Baltimore Ravens strong safety/AP
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By John Glennon, The Tennessean

Only a couple of months removed from capturing a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens, Bernard Pollard sounds like a man more than ready to move on.

Pollard certainly won't forget the many highs of his two-year tenure with the Ravens, which included five playoff victories and a 2012 postseason run that culminated in Baltimore's 34-31 victory over San Francisco in Super Bowl XLVII.

"It was a great feeling because it's what you worked so hard for all season long - from the offseason to training camp and through the season," said Pollard, who signed with the Titans last month. "It doesn't get any bigger than that."

But Pollard is more than tired about the other questions that always seem to be raised of his past year in Baltimore, questions about a midseason incident that was described by some as a "locker-room mutiny" of sorts.

Pollard and former Ravens teammate Ed Reed, two respected veteran leaders, strongly voiced their disapproval when coach John Harbaugh announced plans for a full-pads practice on the first day after a bye week that followed a lopsided loss to Houston. The ensuing no-holds-barred dialogue between Ravens players and Harbaugh in the locker room ultimately would be called a "turning point" by some Ravens, but it also eventually may have played a part in Pollard's release last month.

"As far as talking about any disappointments (in Baltimore), I'm a Tennessee Titan now and I could really care less about that," Pollard said. "I've talked about it too much and I've answered that question so many times, talking about mutiny and this and that and the Baltimore Ravens.

"Well you know what? I'm no longer in Baltimore and I'm a Titan now. (Titans) fans have embraced me. They've been great. For me, I'm ready to move on. This is another chapter for me, and it's going to be fun."

The Titans clearly hope that's the case, which is why they signed Pollard to a one-year, $2 million contract just a week after the Ravens released him, despite already having an experienced strong safety, George Wilson, on the roster.

Tennessee is looking for the aggressive and outspoken Pollard to play a big part in helping improve a defense that surrendered a franchise-record 471 points last season.

Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray compared Gray's hard-hitting style and leadership ability to that of three very productive NFL safeties (two no longer active) in former Titan Blaine Bishop, former Seahawk Lawyer Milloy and the Patriots' Adrian Wilson.

"When you look at guys like that, they're just football players, guys who can blitz, who can tackle and who can hit when they need to," Gray said. "But to me, they're more than just guys who can go hit wide receivers coming across the middle. That's not a fair assessment of him.

"I think it's also about being a great guy in the locker room and a guy who is going to hold guys accountable in the locker room. I think that's a positive. When (Pollard) is saying, 'Not only am I just a good football player on the field, I'm the same way off the field,' that's when you're going to get better."

Still, the Titans clearly were interested enough in the locker room incident of last year that it was brought up when the 28-year-old Pollard visited Nashville before signing.

"By the time Bernard came in here, that had all been reported and addressed, but we all talked it over," Titans general manager Ruston Webster said. "I feel like we're good there and we've covered our bases. His positives for us would definitely outweigh the negatives."

Gray said he wasn't aware of the incident until it was talked about during Pollard's visit, but said he had no problems with the veteran's explanation.

"He satisfied us with his answers because, for me, the guys I mentioned along the lines of a Blaine Bishop or Lawyer Milloy, those are the type of guys that are going to challenge you a little bit as a coach," Gray said. "I'm not saying challenge you as a head coach and I don't want to get into what he did in Baltimore. But I don't want guys to sit there and say, 'Yes sir, yes sir, yes sir,' and then go out there and don't believe in what we're saying.

"I want a guy to say, 'Look, coach, is there a way we can do this better? Is this going to help us win a football game?' You want guys feeling like this is their team and that they are a part of it."

The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Pollard said he's looking forward to playing for both Gray and Gregg Williams, who was hired by the Titans as senior assistant/defense earlier in the offseason. Pollard hadn't met Williams before visiting the Titans, but he's never been shy to talk about the "Bountygate" scandal that led to Williams' yearlong suspension from the NFL.

"I'm one of those guys that continues to say you don't have to pay me to go out there and knock the (heck) out of somebody because that's something I love doing anyway," Pollard said. "If anything, the club is already paying me to do that. I'm not saying the club is provoking us to go out there and hit anybody, but just to get things done and to make things happen."

Williams has always brought an aggressive, attacking style to his defenses, and it sounds as if that philosophy sits well with Pollard.

"I'm an old-school player, and I think a good start-up for a defense is to go out there and just slap somebody," Pollard said. "That's something that's going to get us motivated. That's going to show the offense and the special teams that, 'Hey, let's get this thing going.' "

Pollard practiced what he preached with the Ravens last season, leading the team with 98 tackles despite playing most of the year with six cracked ribs suffered in the second week of the season.

Critics contend that Pollard sometimes crosses the line from being a hard-hitting player to a dirty player, perhaps in light of the fact he's injured key Patriots such as Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Stevan Ridley over the years.

But don't expect Pollard to apologize for his style of play - or alter it - now that he's a Titan.

"I could care less about what people think about me as a player," Pollard said. "I have to feed my family. I have to go out there and play for the city and the organization and my teammates.

"If you want to call me dirty because I hit hard, I'm fine with that. You can call me dirty all day long. But I'm not going to change the way I play. I will not. I will not compromise. I will not give it up."

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