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Mike Munchak wants Bernard Pollard to “play smarter”

Bernard Pollard

Tennessee Titans safety Bernard Pollard (31) looks at the scoreboard in the third quarter of a preseason NFL football game against the Washington Redskins on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)


Titans safety Bernard Pollard has never been shy about saying that he thinks the NFL’s rules governing hits that defensive players can make are ill-concieved and that he won’t change the way he plays in the face of them.

The league hasn’t been shy about fining him and officials haven’t been shy about flagging him, including on Saturday night when Pollard picked up his second personal foul of the preseason against the Falcons. Pollard’s response to that flag was exactly the one you’d expect.

“I can’t change the way I play football,” Pollard said, via John Glennon of the Tennessean. “These guys have never played, and they don’t understand how fast this game is. We’ve got a split second to make a decision, as far as how we’re making that tackle. I hit him in the shoulder pad and I barely grazed that.”

Titans coach Mike Munchak thought the unnecessary roughness call for a hit on Julio Jones was incorrect, but he also said he wants to see Pollard avoid situations that give officials an opportunity to throw a flag.

“We can’t have those,” Munchak said. “We have to be careful. Even if it’s close to being a call, especially on someone they know is aggressive … that probably adds something to it. It shouldn’t, but I’m sure it does. So he has to play smarter. There’s no way around that. You can’t have 15-yard penalties in this game. It’s hard enough to win as it is. We can’t help an offense by doing that.”

If playing smarter means taking more than a split second to make decisions on the field, the results might not wind up much better for the Titans because a delay in acting by Pollard could mean a missed tackle or a receiver who has time to hang onto a catch down the field. That’s secondary to the fact that the Titans knew what kind of player Pollard was when they signed him, however. For better or worse, that’s likely to be the player they get in 2013 and they should have looked elsewhere if they wanted something different.