Safety Battle Murky As Ever

Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura welcome the addition of Bernard Pollard.

Posted by Mike Duffy on Friday, August 5th, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Categories: 2011 Training Camp, Mike Duffy

Heading into training camp, Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura were prepared to duke it out for the right to start at safety alongside Ed Reed.

But with the addition of former Houston Texan Bernard Pollard on Thursday, the battle couldn’t be tighter.

While the Ravens have excellent depth at the safety position, the depth chart itself is a long way from completion.

“We’ll see who the best player is,” said Head Coach John Harbaugh.  “I expect them all play at that level and I expect it to be a tough decision. Those are three really good players so it’s going to be fun to watch.”

The early money had to be on Zbikowski, considering the fact that he started 10 games over the past two seasons for an injured Reed.  During that span, Zbikowski logged 33 tackles and two interceptions.

2-Minute Drill: Safety Competition Heating Up
Right Click for Full Screen Option

Regardless of his past, however, Zbikowski thinks the Pollard signing will raise his level of play.

“It always ups the level of your performance when it’s competition,” said the Notre Dame product. “I have seen Bernard play since our college days – him at Purdue. Obviously me and ‘Ruk’ have been together for quite some time.

“There is definitely some good young talent also so there is definitely not a lack of talent in this safety area.”

Nakamura isn’t fretting a new face in the competition, either.

A key special teamer during his tenure in Baltimore, Nakamura has seen time with the defense in sub packages in the past.

But after coming off an offseason where he could solely focus on training – noting his rehab from a broken ankle in 2009 – Nakamura is more than ready to assume the mantle.

“I don’t really look to emphasize my skills or anything on one thing,” said Nakamura.   “You know, I feel like I’m a pretty good overall player. [I] play the run, play the pass, [I'm] pretty versatile.

“The fact that I had this offseason to train at 100-percent, I feel like it gave me an advantage for the first time in a couple years.”

For his part, Pollard isn’t letting the fact that he is coming into a situation with new teammates and a new playbook ruffle his feathers.

He knows Zbikowski and Nakamura have experience with Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano, but Pollard is also ready to fight.

“Nobody on this team wants anything handed to him,” Pollard said.  “I’m the type of dude where I’m going to hit you in the mouth and I’m going to take it from you. [If] you don’t want to respect me, I’m going to take it from you.

“It’s going to be fun.”

Tags: , , , , , , ,