Hard-hitting Pollard provides swagger to Ravens' D

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Hard-hitting Pollard provides swagger to Ravens' D

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) Bernard Pollard likes to talk and loves to hit.

The Baltimore Ravens strong safety is one of the chattiest players in the locker room, eager to discuss anything from NFL policy to gay marriage.

On the field, Pollard is arguably the fiercest tackler on a rugged defense with a reputation for nastiness. His affection for collision is one big reason why the Ravens beat New England 28-13 last Sunday to earn a berth in the Super Bowl.

Pollard's legal helmet-to-helmet hit on Patriots running back Stevan Ridley forced a fourth-quarter fumble that proved to be pivotal play in Baltimore's upset victory. New England trailed by eight points with just under 13 minutes left when Pollard leveled Ridley, forcing him from the game by technical knockout.

``That was the turning point of the football game there on the 40-yard-line,'' Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. ``It was just a tremendous hit. It was football at its finest. It was Bernard Pollard making a great physical tackle, just as good a tackle as you're ever going to see in football right there.''

It's not as if Pollard hadn't done it before.

When he was the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008, Pollard inadvertently hit Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the knee, but the play ended his year in the first game of the season. One year later, New England wide receiver Wes Welker tore his ACL on a tackle by Pollard. Then, in last year's AFC title game, Pollard sprained the ankle of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Pollard, 6-foot-1, 225 pounds, has paid thousands of dollars in fines for his hard-hitting ways, including a $10,000 fee for an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit in a game against Jacksonville last season. But he makes no apologies for his aggressive play against Ridley, which did not draw a flag because Ridley was not considered a defenseless player.

``This is a violent sport. We run fast, we hit hard,'' Pollard said. ``For me, I love to play this game. I love to tackle. That's what I do. When you have two guys running full speed at each other, and you have helmets and shoulder pads on, somebody is going to go down. It's not something that I'm proud of. I hope he's all right.''

After helping level the Patriots, Pollard engaged in his other favorite activity - talking. He suggested Brady should be fined for his leg-up slide that clipped Baltimore free safety Ed Reed.

For sure, Pollard won't be hiding behind a newspaper during media day in New Orleans. But his main focus over the next several days will be getting prepared to play in the Super Bowl for the first time.

``If we want to play our best football, our preparation the rest of this week and next week has to be outstanding,'' he said.

The 28-year-old Pollard began his NFL career with the Chiefs in 2006, was released in 2009 and immediately signed by the Houston Texans. He signed with the Ravens as an unrestricted free agent in August 2011 because he thought that was his best chance to earn a championship ring.

``I want to suit up, and I want to help this team win. I really do,'' Pollard said at the time. ``The organization is tremendous. We're blessed to have talent. I'm excited, because I know the history here.''

It didn't take Pollard to fit in with the renowned Baltimore defense, and now he's a special part of the team's lore.

``He is a Raven,'' general manager Ozzie Newsome said. ``He's smart, tough and brings passion to our games, our practices and in the weight room. His physical presence on the back end is very important to the way we play defense.''

Warren Sapp does not want Ravens' Timmy Jernigan to wear his number

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Warren Sapp does not want Ravens' Timmy Jernigan to wear his number

Ravens' second-year defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan decided to change jersey numbers this offseason, switching from No. 97 to No. 99.

The reason for the change?

First, Chris Canty, the former owner of No. 99 is no longer with the team. But Jernigan wants to wear No. 99 in honor of NFL Hall of Famer Warren Sapp.

The only problem? Sapp wants nothing to do with it.

There may be a simple answer for this.

Jernigan played college football at Florida State. Sapp spent his time in college at Miami.

Perhaps Sapp just doesn't want anyone to try and replace him.

But covnentional wisdom suggests this has everything to do with the in-state rivalry between the two historic football programs.

RELATED: RAY RICE RETURNS TO SPEAK TO FORMER TEAMMATES

Harbaugh takes full blame for Ravens punishment from NFL

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Harbaugh takes full blame for Ravens punishment from NFL

OWINGS MILLS – Ravens coach John Harbaugh said the blame rests solely with him for the Ravens losing a week of OTA’s, and being fined by the NFL for their rookie minicamp practice violation.

Paraphrasing what he told the team, Harbaugh said Thursday, “There’s not one person in this room that should worry about it for one second, because it’s on me. It’s completely on me. It’s my decision, it’s my effort. That’s the situation that we’re in. We’ll adjust. We’ll adapt. We’ll still become the best football team that we can be. We’ll figure out ways to get our work done. Maybe the rest will be good for us.”

MORE RAVENS: BALTIMORE PUNISHED FOR OTA VIOLATION

Losing valuable practice time at this time of year surely bothers Harbaugh. But it was pretty clear that the Ravens would be punished once it was learned they put players in pads briefly during rookie camp, which violated the CBA.

Asked how the Ravens managed to violate the rules, Harbaugh said he misinterpreted them.

Said Harbaugh, “I read it the wrong way, and it’s on me.”

As a result, the Ravens will have catching up to do when they return to the practice field the second week of June.

Ray Rice speaks to Ravens' rookies and shares good, bad, and ugly

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Ray Rice speaks to Ravens' rookies and shares good, bad, and ugly

OWINGS MILLS - Former Ravens running back Ray Rice was back at team headquarters Wednesday, speaking to the team’s rookies following their OTA practice.

Most, if not all of the Ravens’ rookies, had never met Rice, who was released in September of 2014 after a video surfaced of him striking his wife, who was then his fiancée. Rice has never gotten another chance in the NFL, despite being a star for years, and becoming one of the franchise’s most popular players. Not only did Rice help the Ravens win a Super Bowl, he was one of the team’s most active players in the community.

Rice’s story is another example of how quickly a person’s life can change after a major mistake.  The Ravens tweeted out several statements about Rice’s visit.

MORE RAVENS: HARBAUGH TAKES BLAME FOR OTA VIOLATION

“Our 27 sessions to our rookies through our player engagement program review and teach life management and life lessons,” the tweets began. “Rice, who played for the Ravens from 2008-14, delivered an important message that included his story, both the good and the bad. He clearly had the attention of our rookies.”

Rice received $1.588 million settlement from the Ravens in March of 2015, which concluded his wrongful-termination grievance. Rice and Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti built a close relationship, and Bisciotti has never ruled out Rice returning to the organization in a player development role at some point.