A couple weeks ago, Nick Scurfield of HoustonTexans.com reported that Houston Texans DBs coach David Gibbs said that he would be surprised if SS Bernard Pollard didn’t make the Pro Bowl this year:
You can’t hide him. He’s a big, physical presence, even in practice in shorts. You know he’s out there every day. He’s a competitive guy, so there’s always something going on, a fight or a screaming match or something, with Bernard. That’s his personality. I’ll be surprised if he’s not a Pro Bowl safety this year, the way he works and the maturity he has developed on and off the field. He’s become the leader of our group in the back end, and I think the sky’s the limit for the guy.”
The report to you is a no brainer if you saw Pollard’s last campaign, I mean season. Pollard became the Texans secondary’s rush defense while racking up numbers no safety has done before for the Texans in a 13 game stretch, let alone a season. Pollard, cut by the Kansas City Chiefs and their awful perspective on safeties in early September 2009, signed with the Texans late that month and started 13 games putting up 81 solo tackles, 102 combined tackles, 1.5 sacks, 4 interceptions for 121 yards, 7 pass deflections, a forced fumble and a defensive touchdown. In IDP terms, that’s fantasy gold, especially for a player thrown into the Texans 2009 secondary week 3 without any of the practice he’ll have coming into this 2010 season.
At training camp, I saw a a vocal leader in Pollard. He encouragingly, yet victoriously yells to his young teammates, including Kareem Jackson, Mario Williams and Brian Cushing, “It’s time to work! Time to WORK!” Early on, he is the first of the defensive starters to sprint to center of the field, and he never stops giving it his all during camp. Scrimmaging, he’ll bark and snarl between plays. He’ll grunt when deflecting passes like a guy at the Y blocking your shot. During play, he’ll sprint full speed at the ball carrier, loudening his yell, “AH!!!” coming to a complete stop instead of laying him out as he would in a real-game scenario (ask Tom Brady or Steven Jackson). He peps up different players in different ways, knocking helmets with Cushing, encouraging young defensive backs and speaking man to man with DeMeco Ryans. He’d yell the same things the coaches were yelling at Mario to pickup. Overall, it looks like Pollard will be the Texans vocal leader and most energetic playmaker. And that’s something this Texans’ D needs to keep their head in the game to pull off wins (see week 12 v. Colts loss after getting too comfortable up 21-0 in first half).
Most recently, Pollard explained to HoustonTexans.com’s Drew Dougherty that the Texans defense knows their role and that they will have to communicate and understand each other to succeed.
As long as we communicate, we understand what each guy’s doing, you know, we can’t slip up. As far as being in the secondary, if you have a slip up, that’s a touchdown. We understand what we can do and what we can’t do. And so just basic holding ourselves accountable to each player on this team, to each player on this defense. You know, like I said its understood: we gotta play good, because playoffs is what its going to be.
Playoffs and a Pro Bowl for Pollard may seem like high hopes, but its positive talk like that which gets the rest of the defense believing, too, that there they have the talent and determination to consistently achieve these goals.
On a sour note for Pollard and fans of EA’s Sports Madden game franchise, Pollard is rated a measly, unresearched 84 in this year’s Madden 11.
But in reality, and for any fan of good football, Pollard’s having a hard time scrimmaging non-contact this week in practice:
“That’s hard. That’s very hard. This is not my game. I don’t run around. I don’t like tapping people. We’re going to lay the hat down. That’s how we’re going to establish our dominance. This is camp. This is where we start. We’re trying to work out the kinks and get this roster set. When Day 1 comes, you’re going to know we’re here.”
That kind of talk is also pumping up us at home, making preseason sound more appealing than ever before for Texans fans.