Scott hasn't lost his humor, or hunger

OWINGS MILLS -- Bart Scott hounded diminutive running back Cory Ross all over the football field, gamely straining as it were a playoff game. And the Baltimore Ravens' talkative linebacker accused Todd Heap of a little extra improvisation when the tight end sprinted past him during passing drills.

"You made that route up," Scott said.

Minutes after sweating his way through another voluntary minicamp, Scott demonstrated that he hasn't lost his trademark sense of humor or his hunger to succeed despite his newly-minted Pro Bowl status.

Prior to an interview, Scott buckled up his helmet and quipped, "I'm Ricky Williams," in a reference to the eccentric, banished Miami Dolphins star.

Even though Scott is riding the wave of a breakthrough season where he registered a career-high 135 tackles and led all NFL inside linebackers with 9 ½ sacks, taking a vacation isn't on his agenda.

Unlike several other absent high-profile members of the NFL's top-ranked defense, Scott couldn't envision himself anywhere else than at the Ravens' training complex in May. So far, Scott has perfect attendance at all minicamps.

"I don't have a life," he quipped. "It's out of pure boredom. It's either this or stay home and play PlayStation all day."

At heart, Scott still views himself through a humble prism.

Scott entered the league six years ago as an unheralded, undrafted free agent from Southern Illinois. The Ravens were the only team to send a scout to his campus workout, and he hasn't forgotten those roots.

"That's part of my DNA," Scott said. "No matter what accolades I receive, I'll always see myself as an undrafted free agent.

"I think that's what has enabled me to get over the top and play with intensity. I've been doubted, not really paid attention to, the guy in the back of the bus. .. I have plenty to prove."

However, the reality is that Scott's status has changed dramatically. He's unlikely to fly below the radar screen this fall.

Between making national highlight reels for his crushing sack of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and drawing the ire of AFC North rivals with an intimidating blend of hard hits and harsh taunts, the Detroit native is no longer a secret.

"You're going to draw a lot more attention, you're going to be in guys' scouting reports," Scott acknowledged. "I'm going to have to step it up even to produce the same results as last year. I'm going to have to prepare myself for the beating and guys trying to prove themselves against me.

"I embrace it. As an athlete, you thrive on challenges and testing yourself against the best. It's a test of wills. That's what I thrive on."

Scott relishes being around his teammates even though he isn't technically required to be on the practice field until a mandatory full-team minicamp next month.

"This is my time of year," he said. "This is when you try out your new stuff. You learn your limitations, find out what you can and can't get away with. You try to get your skills up and get better than last year."

Besides his intensity on the field, Scott made a name for himself last season with a collection of colorful quotes. He won the Baltimore media's annual ‘Good Guy' award and was presented with a large bottle of hot sauce to commemorate his oft-repeated crack about pouring a little hot sauce on New Orleans Saints rookie Reggie Bush's ankle.

With the departure of All-Pro linebacker Adalius Thomas and two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Ray Lewis turning 32 earlier this month, the Ravens are counting on Scott emerging as a leader in the locker room in addition to assuming some of Thomas' versatile responsibilities.

"He readily accepts that, he's a natural leader in that regard," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "If Ray is out or not here, Bart's got to take over that mantle a little bit. With each year, he gets more and more confident and capable of assuming that role."

There's at least one topic, though, that wipes the smile off of Scott's face. The Ravens' 15-6 AFC divisional playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts still haunts him and spurs his motivation toward this season.

"You do a lot of soul-searching," Scott said. "When we lost, I came back and lifted weights for two weeks because I didn't know what to do. I was so shocked. I still had a lot left in me.

"I don't want to feel that feeling again. I've learned what it feels like to lose. Now, I want to see what it feels like to win and take it all the way to the top."

NOTES: Among the veterans not attending the minicamp: linebackers Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Dan Cody and Gary Stills, offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, center Mike Flynn, cornerbacks Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle, safety Ed Reed, defensive end Trevor Pryce and nose guard Kelly Gregg.

Second-year cornerback David Pittman has a mild strained hamstring and was held out for precautionary reasons.

Running back Mike Anderson, who didn't attend last week's minicamp, practiced.

Billick made a joke to receivers about being careful not to fall into the vast drainage pond that's directly behind the back of the end zone. It's being dubbed "Lake Bisciotti"

Wide receiver Mark Clayton exploited nickel back Corey Ivy on a go route after getting him to bite on a feinted post pattern.

Demetrius Williams executed crisply, hauling in a pass from quarterback Steve McNair in heavy traffic up the right sidelines.

Newly promoted offensive coordinator Rick Neuheisel on his expanded role: "I have a little louder voice now." Added Billick: "I don't know that he can have any larger role. He has as strong a voice in what we do as any."

The Ravens conclude their second minicamp today and will resume workouts May 30, the same day that McNair is scheduled for a pretrial settlement conference in his DUI by consent case.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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