Titans look to S Bernard Pollard for leadership

Bernard Pollard remembers the moment well.

Tennessee and Chris Johnson were running all over his Kansas

City Chiefs in October 2008, and he finally had it with Titans

right tackle David Stewart. So both men put up their fists, ready

to start swinging away. A photographer caught them in that moment,

and Stewart put a copy of the photo in his locker as a keepsake of

the near brawl.

When Pollard joined the Titans this year, Stewart went to his

new teammate, photo in hand, for an autograph.

”It’s a very cool photo,” Pollard said. ”But when you got 280

yards (rushing) on you … I was hot. They did a great job. But to

be on the team, for him to be my teammate, to be on a team with

him, man it’s a great thing.”

Stewart agrees.

”It’s always good to have a guy like that on the team,”

Stewart said.

The Titans certainly are counting on Pollard to lead a defense

bouncing back from a horrible season. They gave up a

franchise-worst 471 points in 2012, most in the NFL and took

advantage of Baltimore’s salary cap purge of a Super Bowl-winning

roster by signing the feisty veteran to a one-year contract a week

after he was released.

Tennessee’s roster in 2012 was its youngest in years, and the

Titans need someone to point the direction back to the playoffs.

Cornerback Jason McCourty, whose locker is next to Pollard’s, said

the safety brings a certain attitude that comes with being a

veteran going into his eighth season with a Super Bowl victory on

his resume.

”And he’s a leader,” McCourty said. ”We can look to him and

try to get his tone that he sets and kind of just follow. I think

that’s huge for our defense. We were missing that last year. Just

that guy that brings that aggression, that toughness and that loud

voice, I just think that’s going to help us.”

Pollard is the guy whose legal helmet-to-helmet hit on New

England running back Stevan Ridley forced a late fumble in

Baltimore’s AFC championship win in January, and he sprained Rob

Gronkowski’s ankle last year also in the AFC title game. Patriots’

fans remember only too well how he inadvertently hit Tom Brady’s

knee in 2008 or his tackle of Wes Welker when the receiver tore his

ACL.

Defensive coordinator Jerry Gray sees Pollard as the player who

can get his teammates’ attention.

”If there was a turnover and our guys walked on the football

field, what attitude you going out there with?” Gray said. ”And

if you’re going out with the wrong attitude, you’re probably giving

up a touchdown or a field goal, and then you need a guy like him to

get the rest of the guys to say, `Hey, look. We can’t give up

anything, even though the offense did this. We’re on the same

team.’ And I think that’s what you do, and you get better.”

Pollard has made his presence known both on the practice field

and in the locker room where he has both his termination letter

from Baltimore taped inside his locker along with a message for

this season with a note simply stating: ”GOAL – SUPER BOWL MISSION

– KILL !!!”

”I think everybody knows who I am, and … that has to be our

motto,” Pollard said. ”That has to be what we do. We, and this is

going to be the last time I address it, we are not murderers and I

should not have to say that because this is football. … For us we

got a helmet and shoulder pads and this is a man’s game. You come

across that line, we’re going to slap you. We don’t care about you.

That’s what we have to do.

Pollard said the Titans cannot care about hurting any feelings,

not when so little is expected out of them.

”At the end of the day, we’re looking for wins,” Pollard

said.

Titans coach Mike Munchak couldn’t have said it better

himself.

Notes: The Titans wrapped up practice 20 minutes early due to a

thunderstorm that sent fans hurrying to the parking lot. … Middle

linebacker Colin McCarthy, a defensive captain a year ago,

practiced with the first team for the first time this year. Moise

Fokou had been working ahead of McCarthy since being signed this

offseason. … Rookie RG Chance Warmack got his own chance at a

one-on-one Wednesday and found himself pushed back on his second

snap by DaJohn Harris, an undrafted free agent a year ago.

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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