The Chicago Bears invested heavily in defensive ends this offseason, acquiring big-name veterans Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston and Willie Young. Yet most folks forget GM Phil Emery's first defensive-end acquisition was Trevor Scott, signed a week before the official start of free agency.
Scott, a former sixth-round pick of the Oakland Raiders in 2008, is entering his seventh NFL season. He's played in 76 games, with 18 starts. He's accumulated 16.5 career sacks, with a regular-season high of 7.0 sacks in 2009.
In 2012 Scott played 14 games, with two starts, for the New England Patriots, racking up seven tackles, 3.0 sacks and one forced fumble.
"He does have a good history," said defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni. "He had some impressive games when he was with the New England Patriots. He's good on the edge. He's a good outside rusher. He's a smart player. He understands pass rush. He understands protections. He's been a very positive addition for us."
Scott worked with the second team throughout OTAs and minicamp. In training camp, he's taken reps with the first team in the pass-rush sub package, alongside Houston, Allen and Jeremiah Ratliff.
"[The coaches] just like to keep us guessing," Scott told Bear Report. "If they want to take a look at some guys, they'll just throw them in, first spot, second spot, but we're all pretty much interchangeable."
Through four practices, he's shown good explosiveness and quickness off the edge, routinely beating right tackles Jordan Mills, Eben Britton and Joe Long. In fact, it could be argued that Scott has been the most impressive edge rusher of training camp to this point.
In the second practice, Scott took a snap in which he beat Mills so quickly, Jay Cutler could do nothing but fire the ball into the ground.
"I just come out to work every day," Scott said. "The thing is about football, you never get too high but you never get too low as well. You just come out and bring your hard hat every day and just try to get better."
Heading into this offseason, many felt David Bass would be the breakout player to emerge as the club's No. 4 defensive end, while some pegged last year's sixth rounder Cornelius Washington as this year's surprise performer. Yet so far it's been Scott who has shined on the practice fields in Bourbonnais.
That said, the veteran knows he still has a lot of work ahead of him.
"The thing about football, the game is always changing," he said. "We're always learning new things every day, technique-wise, fundamentals. You just never get comfortable."
Through his experience playing for four different NFL organizations, Scott believes the key to being a complete defensive end is focusing on the details.
"Here, we've really emphasized repetitions of what we've been doing. The more repetitions you get, it comes to the point where we're not even thinking about it when we're on the field," he said. "It's little technique things that we've been working on every day, hands, feet, punch, things like that. That'll really get us going.
"We're edge setters but we're up the field at the same time. We're using our hands, we have to have great hands and great feet. We've just got to bring it every day, all four of us on the defensive line."
Chicago finished the 2013 season dead last in the NFL in sacks, which prompted Emery to overhaul the defensive line with big-name free agents and high-round draft picks. Yet Scott may prove a very pleasant surprise. If he builds on what he's shown so far the first four days of camp, he could emerge as a playmaker in the No. 4 DE role.
"My personal goal is I just want to make plays out there," said Scott. "I want to contribute to the defense. No matter how many snaps I get or where I'm at on the field, I just want to make plays and be successful.
"I feel great about the locker room and the potential. The sky is the limit with this group. We have so many talented guys, so many great football players here. Everyone wants to get better and that's the whole goal. We know where want to go this year and we're not going to stop working until we get there."
In another positive sign, Scott's play the first week of camp has stood to person that matters most, defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.
"I tell you what. We have huge amounts of competition on our D-line. We’ve got a lot of guys who have done a lot of good things. But Trevor specifically has shown an ability to play on the left and the right side. He’s spending most of his time on the right but when we put him on the left it doesn’t bother him. He’s done a nice job on special teams as well.
"In the run game, he’s showing that he can set a vertical edge for us and play a good six-technique. And obviously he does have some pass rush ability. So I’m really glad that we have him. I’m excited about what he can become.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.