Ravens' team news 7/17

For the past three seasons, Bart Scott has shown athleticism. Now, the Ravens coaching staff has said, comes his opportunity.

The former undrafted linebacker will compete with Tommy Polley in training camp as the team's starting weak-side linebacker. Scott has finished as the Ravens' second-leading special teams tackler the past two seasons.

"We see Tommy as being a very effective player for us, but we also feel Bart is going to be very effective also," defensive coordinator Rex Ryan said. "I want to look at contributors rather than starters."

Scott also understands his role as a leader has to expand. With the Ravens releasing Peter Boulware and Cornell Brown, Scott is the third-most-tenured linebacker behind Ray Lewis and Adalius Thomas.

"It's extremely weird, especially when you are used to being the young guy on the team," Scott said. "You see what the other guys had to go through and the responsibilities they had to carry by being the veterans.

"It's like when you go off to college and are used to older brothers being around. But when you are by yourself, all those rules and values as far as being a leader, now you have to be an example. I have younger guys to be an example to."

Scott led by example during the offseason minicamps, jumping into drills and barking out calls in the middle of the defense. With Lewis skipping the voluntary sessions, Scott replaced him on the first-team unit.

Their absences left the defense green. Scott and Thomas led a linebacker corps that featured five rookies or second-year players and free agent signings Jim Nelson and Tommy Polley.

"You want to have something you can count on, something that's constant and been around, but when Ray comes back, I won't be in the middle at all," Scott said.

That is because coaches have assured Scott he will have a legitimate chance to battle Polley for a starting spot. If he loses, Scott may still end up on the field this season more than his last three years combined.

"With Bart, we're encouraged by him, and that's why we are putting him in a situation where he's running (as) our first-team middle linebacker, yet we see him competing elsewhere," Ryan said. "No one wants to back up Ray Lewis because there isn't anybody that's going to beat Ray Lewis out. That's where Bart has been in the past. Where's the motivation?"

Ryan expects to have a host of potential playmakers to call on, especially with the shift in philosophy to a more blitz-oriented system in the 46 defense. Besides Scott and Polley, second-year pass-rushing linebacker Roderick Green will be in the mix.
Green has been one of the primary younger players in Scott's ear during the offseason practices. Outside of Thomas, he had few other places to turn.

"If I don't know something, I will ask (Scott), and he will explain it the best way he can," Green said. "You can see him out here teaching the younger guys who just came in, making them feel comfortable in what they are doing so they won't feel out of place."

NOTES, QUOTES
--The Ravens haven't had any negotiations with top pick and receiver Mark Clayton, the No. 22 overall selection out of Oklahoma. But team officials said they expect to begin negotiating with Clayton within the week.
--The Ravens will open up the regular season at home for the first time since the 2001 season. From 1999 to 2004, the Ravens have started the regular season at home just twice.
--The only coach left from the 2000 defensive staff is Rex Ryan, who became the team's defensive coordinator this season. That staff has produced two head coaches (Marvin Lewis and Jack Del Rio) and three defensive coordinators (Ryan, Donnie Henderson and Mike Smith).

QUOTE TO NOTE: "A lot of people told me coming out of high school, 'You're too small to play football.' I know my heart and my will to do great is far greater than what anybody else has to say about it." -- First-round draft pick Mark Clayton on playing receiver in the NFL at 5-10.


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