NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It's hard to make it through an NFL season without losing key contributors to injured reserve. The Titans took their first crushing blow to "Mr. I.R." after it was announced Monday Bernard Pollard har ruptured his Achilles late in Sunday's loss to the Browns.
"Still can't believe it, but God has a plan. Surgery tomorrow morning, pray for me! First time in my career I get to meet Mr. IR…lol. Peace out," is what Pollard said via Twitter regarding the news. BP has since undergone successful surgery to repair the ruptured tendon.
The Titans made the corresponding roster move Wednesday, placing Pollard on injured reserve and signing cornerback Brandon Ghee, a fifth-year player who spent his first four NFL seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals.
The nature of the NFL means there is no time to dwell on injuries, no matter how large the hole left behind. 'Next man up' is the philosophy, and second-year safety Daimion Stafford is one of the players expected to see increased playing time, along with veteran George Wilson.
"I'm just trying to go out there and show these coaches they can trust me and show this team that they can count on me," said Stafford when asked about the looming opportunity.
Stafford is an underclassman in a position group full of veteran experience. He says learning from the Titans starters is not something he's taken for granted.
"I've been soaking up everything from George, Griff (Michael Griffin), and Bernard. As much as they try to slow down their game is what I'm trying to do," Stafford said.
Pollard hasn't been around Saint Thomas Sports Park due to his surgery, but Stafford said the two have been in contact.
"I talked to him on our day off and let him know I said a prayer or two for him. I told him to keep his spirits up and he's done exactly that," said Stafford. "He told me to go out there and do my thing. He believes in me, as do the rest of these guys in this group."
There's a number of aspects to Pollard's game that will be missed sorely by the Titans – vocal leadership and a decade of NFL experience being at the forefront of the list.
Reporters are equally as disappointed to lose Pollard for his colorful quotes during open locker room. Stafford admitted he won't be the media's new go-to player for quotes, but he will certainly maintain Pollard's confrontational style of play.
"That's a part of my game anyways, he didn't have to tell me that part," he said. I'm going to be out there jawing a little bit, but as long I'm executing it'll be alright."
Stafford has appeared in all five games this season – predominantly in a special teams role – recording three tackles. In his rookie season, Stafford logged eight total tackles and one forced fumble. He was one of the Titans standout players during training camp and has been preparing for this very opportunity.
"I'm approaching this week just like any other week," Stafford said. "Even these last four or five weeks when I wasn't getting playing time I was still preparing like a starter. I'm going to prepare like I have the rest of the year and go out there and give it all I've got."
Amidst all the clichés of 'next man up' and 'business as usual', there's no denying another cliché of a 'dream come true'.
"I'm excited," he said unable to contain a smile. "I've been waiting for this chance my whole life. Growing up this is all I wanted to do. I never wanted to be a firefighter or a cop, just to play in the NFL. This is a big deal for me."