Great Scott: Versatile defender could help boost Patriots pass rush in 2012
|07.31.12 at 11:48 pm ET|
The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Scott has played a multitude of positions over the course of his four-year career in the NFL (all four with Oakland) including defensive end and outside linebacker — with his hand down and standing up — which was one of the reasons he was on the Patriots’ radar when he came out of the University of Buffalo in 2008.
‘A lot of times he was on the line, sometimes in a three-point stance, sometimes in a two-point stance — but he also did play off the line in linebacker roles,’ Belichick said of Scott, who signed as a free agent in March. ‘We saw him do a lot of different things, in addition to the kicking game. He has some versatility, he’s young and he’s worked hard.
‘He had a real good offseason for us in terms of our offseason program; he was one of our award winners there. He’s getting acclimated, but again, [there’s] a long way to go. There are certainly a lot of things that we do that either he needs to work on or that he hasn’t done at Oakland or whatever it is. But he’s a hard working kid and he’s making progress.’
For his part, the 27-year-old Scott wasn’t surprised that he was on Belichick’s radar.
‘He knows everybody’s history,’ Scott shrugged after Tuesday’s practice. ‘He’s Bill Belichick.’
Not every veteran can make the transition into the New England defense. Last season, the Patriots were able to find two defensive ends in Andre Carter and Mark Anderson (who combined for 20 sacks) who were able to acclimate themselves nicely to the New England system. Now, with Carter still rehabbing a torn calf muscle that prematurely ended his 2011 season and Anderson moving to Buffalo as a free agent, Scott will try and pick up where they left off.
True to form, to this point in camp, Scott has been played both left and right defensive end with both the starting defense, as well as the second team. He’s been utilized mainly with his hand on the ground, but he’s also been standing up as well. On Tuesday, it certainly appeared he was working as one of the defensive ends in the Patriots’ nickel package.
There have been struggles — he appeared to lose two of his individual matchups in Tuesday’s one-on-one drills against right tackle Marcus Cannon — he’s done a few things that recall versatile defender Rob Ninkovich.
‘I just go in there and do what I’m told,’ he said when asked if he has a preference. ‘Left side, right side, up the middle. I just do what I’m told.’
If healthy, can he be a guy who helps replace the 20 sacks that Carter and Anderson compiled last season? When he’s been healthy, Scott has shown a knack for getting to the quarterback. His best season came in 2009 when he finished with 43 tackles (38 solo) and a career-best seven sacks with the Raiders.
Those numbers dipped in 2010 when he suffered a torn ACL while covering a punt against the Steelers, and Scott wasn’t able to find his form in 2011 — he didn’t start a single game after making 16 starts the previous two years, and he managed just seven tackles on the season.
Now, it’s a fresh start for Scott, who was signed by the Patriots as a free on March 19. He has taken to the program already — he was one of 10 players honored as one of the team’s top performers in the offseason program, which got him a sweet front-row parking space right next to the players’ entrance at Gillette Stadium.
‘I definitely like what I see — every day we’re getting better,’ he said. ‘We always have our coaching points we need to work on every day, (but) that’s football. We just come out here every day and try and put a smile on their face and go to work.’
With a week of training camp under his belt, Scott feels pretty good about where he is in the overall acclimation process.
‘I think it’s going pretty well. I’m just trying to do everything they ask me to do. Every snap I get I get in there and work hard and work on my techniques and play football,’ Scott said. ‘I feel like I’m picking it up. I played all over the field, so like I said, no matter what they ask me to do, I try and do it 100 miles an hour.’