S Pollard part of Titans’ new aggressive attitude
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — New Titans safety Bernard Pollard promises that Tennessee’s revamped defense will be aggressive and ready to play what he calls “smack you in the mouth” football.
If one player fights, Pollard sees a team where all fight. If one coach goes through something, they all do. And whatever is said inside the Titans’ building remains among the “brotherhood.”
“What happens here, what you hear here, stays here,” Pollard said Tuesday.
That’s part of an all-for-one mindset that is the last piece of fixing a Tennessee defense that gave up a franchise-worst 471 points. The Titans have been busy all offseason with moves that included giving Gregg Williams his first job as a senior defensive assistant after serving a yearlong suspension for his role in the New Orleans’ bounty scandal. They also signed veterans like Pollard to add winning experience and nasty attitude to the mix.
Now they’re busy learning the new defense during the team’s offseason program, a defense Pollard said will be aggressive from the beginning.
“If a guy coming across the middle, if a guy come up to you, if a guy wants to pick a fight, we as a defense we’re going to fight and we’re going to ask questions later,” Pollard said. “We’re not going to worry about what happened at that point. I’m not worried. The guy has an opposite jersey on so we’re going to fight him.”
That’s the kind of swagger the Titans need after going 6-10 in 2012 giving up an average 29.4 points per game. That included 55 touchdowns — most in the NFL. But because they also ranked near the bottom in several other defensive categories, the Titans also need to back up the tough talk.
To get it done, Tennessee signed five veterans to add winning experience, and Pollard is coming off a Super Bowl win with the Baltimore Ravens. The Titans will be learning new defensive schemes during the offseason program. Pollard, who signed a one-year deal, said he was attracted by all the young talent on this roster.
“You see the direction that coach (Mike) Munchak wants to go,” Pollard said. “You see what he’s been trying to do the last few years, and I truly believe they’re right there on the edge. Now ... they added some veteran guys, they added some guys in the draft to help this team, to help this team be better.”
The Titans also signed safety George Wilson after he was cut by Buffalo along with defensive end Ropati Pitoitua from Kansas City and tackle Sammie Hill from Detroit along with linebacker Moise Fokou from Indianapolis.
But it was Pollard who played on the hard-hitting Baltimore defense with the likes of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed and the player helping set the aggression tone for Tennessee. The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Pollard helped the Ravens earn that Super Bowl berth with his helmet-to-helmet hit on New England running back Stevan Ridley, forcing a crucial fumble in the fourth quarter. He already is slotted opposite free safety Michael Griffin on the early depth chart.
As a linebacker, Akeem Ayers is looking forward to having the backup of a safety making tackles, cover and bring an intimidation factor.
“He knows what it takes to get there,” Ayers said of Pollard. “He knows what a winning team looks like so us as young guys, we pretty much only know one thing and we’re trying to flip the culture here. We’re trying to change the way we play defense, our mindset and all that. He’s definitely somebody we can look to to guide us in that right direction.”
So the Titans have Pollard helping set the tone on the field with Williams filling the meeting rooms with energy and passion. This is Pollard’s first experience working with Williams, someone that reminds the safety of Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham. Pollard played for Cunningham in Kansas City at the start of his career. Pollard says Williams has the bigger personality, though the edge seems to be the talkative safety stopped cursing a few years ago.
Pollard can’t wait to start playing in this defense.
“It’s straight to the point,” Pollard said. “There’s no hiding. You can’t hide ... in this defense so it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker