Ravens' Scott a jack of all trades

OWINGS MILLS -- In the NFL, Bart Scott has been called many things. Unheralded special-teams ace. Emergency dime back. Middle linebacker. Outside linebacker. Scott has even lined up at safety, although the 6-foot-2, 240-pounder wears No. 57. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers on the league's biggest stage Monday night, Scott will be called something new: starter.

With All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis likely out with a hamstring pull and weakside linebacker Tommy Polley shifting over to replace Lewis, Scott is expected to start his first NFL game at outside linebacker.

"What better way if you are going to get your feet wet and have it be on Monday Night Football than to step out and represent yourself and the team in the right way," Scott said. "I pride myself on being a linebacker and a professional. As an athlete, you look forward to every challenge no matter how steep it might seem. I look forward to coming in and not having a drop-off."

For Scott, versatility has been a hallmark of his game dating back to his high school days in Detroit where he doubled as a linebacker and running back. At Southern Illinois, Scott started for three years, shifting between linebacker and strong safety.

Since making the Ravens as an undrafted rookie in 2002, Scott has lined up all over the field. Does he have any regrets at never finding a permanent home at a position?
"Not at all," Scott said. "That's been my whole career since college, flopping around. That allows me to understand the importance of other players when I am settled into whatever role. It allows me to know where to fit and how to play and what that guy next to me is taught and what he sees."

Scott leads the Ravens with nine special-teams tackles. On defense, he has a forced fumble and 11 tackles.

When Lewis limped off in the fourth quarter of a 10-6 loss to the Chicago Bears, Scott lined up at middle linebacker for the last couple series. Now, he'll have an expanded role against the Steelers and standout runner Willie Parker.

"Bart is very physical, and you are going to need that against the Steelers," Ravens coach Brian Billick said of an offense that rushed for 221 yards on 47 carries against Cincinnati. "You know that they are going to be physical and that is certainly Bart's game. He'll be ready to step up to the responsibility."

Scott has demonstrated a flair for big plays in the past. He intercepted a pass as a rookie in a 2002 upset win over the Tennessee Titans, and has been a hard-nosed tackler in the Ravens' goal-line defense.

"Just a raw athlete with the ability to be nasty," said Scott, describing himself. "I'm an athletic linebacker, but not a linebacker you can just run over. I'm a physical linebacker and I take pride in that. I've been bred that way since I was in Pee-Wee league."

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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