By Mike Preston
The Baltimore Sun
9:25 AM EDT, September 19, 2012
Soon after Sunday's loss to Philadelphia, both Ravens coach John Harbaugh and safety Bernard Pollard said Pollard would play in this week's game against New England despite bruised ribs. A day later, Harbaugh wouldn't make the same commitment.
The Ravens need Pollard to play.
After two games, he has been the team's best defensive player. He has been a thumper, stopper and a player that the opposition has to find on every play. Pollard had a great season a year ago, but his value has doubled because the Ravens can line him up anywhere on the field. Because the run defense has been subpar, the Ravens have put him in the box or near the line of scrimmage a lot. Without much of a pass rush, the Ravens have used Pollard almost like an outside linebacker at times with him bringing pressure off the corner.
When playing on the back end in pass defense, Pollard has made receivers pay after catches over the middle. And he gives the coaching staff some relief knowing he is back there with safety Ed Reed, who has been known to stray from the called defense at times.
James Ihedigbo was solid filling in for Pollard in the second half Sunday after Pollard got hurt, but he doesn't bring nearly the same versatility. With a defense that has been struggling in the first two weeks, Pollard had become a player the Ravens could count on.
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