Ravens strong safety Bernard Pollard was rewarded this month with a contract extension, a deal that can keep him in Baltimore through 2015. Pollard made 75 tackles and broke up a career-high 13 passes in 2011, his first season here, but he insists his attitude and his play won't change now that he has a new deal.
"This is a blessing for me. You hear so many times when guys get extensions and they don't play the same, they don't do the same thing, they don't have the same hunger," Pollard said at Wednesday's organized team activity. "I stay hungry. I play with chips on my shoulders. Playing with these guys is truly an honor."
Pollard, 27, was referring to all his Ravens teammates but was later asked specifically about the handful of players who aren't at this week's voluntary workouts. He made sure to point out that these were, in fact, voluntary. But he said players such as inside linebacker Ray Lewis and free safety Ed Reed have earned the right to skip these voluntary OTAs, and he has no doubt that those guys will be ready to work this summer.
During Wednesday's media-friendly practice, Pollard assumed his spot with the first-team defense. Veteran safety Sean Considine, who will also be counted on to contribute on special teams, often took Reed's spot at free safety. Lardarius Webb and second-year player Jimmy Smith manned the two cornerback spots as Cary Williams, who is still working his way back from offseason hip surgery, watched from the sideline.
This offseason, Webb boasted that the Ravens had the NFL's best secondary, but there has been a good bit of roster turnover after the talented nickel-package quintet. Safeties Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura and cornerbacks Chris Carr and Domonique Foxworth are gone, opening up opportunities for rookie safety Christian Thompson and cornerback Asa Jackson, along with second-year players such as Chykie Brown.
Pollard praised general manager Ozzie Newsome and the team's front office for putting together what he feels is another championship-caliber team. And Pollard, who is a favorite of reporters for his willingness to tell you exactly what he is thinking in a very colorful manner, sounds eager to silence the team's critics.
"Whatever happened last year was last year. We're moving on to this year. The 2012 football season is going to be exciting," he said. "You've got so many people saying what we can't do, who we're facing, how many quarterbacks can do this, what offenses do that. It does not matter because when the whistle blows and you're between those white [lines], you can't stop us. And we're excited with what we have."