Scott Explains His Preseason Struggles

Darrion Scott could be the short-term replacement during Kenny Mixon's suspension, but the rookie defensive lineman admittedly hasn't been all that impressive in training camp … and his self-evaluation seems like an honest explanation as to why that is.

The NFL-imposed suspensions of defensive end Kenny Mixon and running back Onterrio Smith mainly affects two players: Obviously, Mixon and Smith, who will both miss the beginning of the Vikings' regular season.

But next to the pair getting punished, the two players who will feel the void, are two who might fill the void.

Defensive end Darrion Scott and running back Mewelde Moore, two of the team's top five draft picks last April, could be the major benefactors of increased practice and playing time while Mixon serves his two-game sentence and Smith potentially serves his four-game punishment.

Mixon will miss the first two games of the season because he violated the league's substance abuse policy for multiple alcohol-related convictions. Typically a player who has multiple violations receives a four-game suspension, but in its decision, the league said the circumstances didn't warrant four games.

Smith, it was revealed recently, failed a drug test for the third time in his young career. That violated the NFL's substance abuse policy, which means he faces a four-game suspension.

Both Mixon and Smith are allowed to practice and play the remainder of the exhibition season. But neither will be permitted to play or practice uring their suspensions.

The players' upcoming absences have forced the Vikings to speed up the learning process of two valuable rookies. Last week in training camp, the Vikings moved Scott into the seven-man shuttle of defensive linemen. Scott might be the player who will be expected to partially fill Mixon's shoes during the suspension.

The Vikings drafted Scott 88th overall. At 6-3, 271 pounds, Scott played defensive tackle and defensive end at Ohio State. Even though he started 11 games as a senior, Scott battled a shoulder injury that he thought lowered his worth on draft day.

With the season opener less than two weeks from now the last thing Scott is worrying about is his draft position. Scott hopes to take advantage of the Vikings' situation — finding that player to fill in for Mixon — by becoming a fixture in the team's rotation of defensive linemen.

"That will give me more playing time," Scott said. "When the coaches moved me into the second team that's a chance for me to show the coaches what I can do. It's definitely an opportunity for me to go out there and try to get more reps and see what I can do when the games come."

Barring major developments, Mixon won't lose his job. He finished with a career-high five quarterback sacks last season and started all 16 games for the Vikings. Once Week 3 arrives, Mixon will likely resume his starting role.

That won't discourage Scott, who admits he has much to learn during his freshman season in the NFL. "Camp has been constantly difficult for me," Scott said. "I really haven't been adept to the techniques and the teachings the coaches out there are trying to put to use for me."

Scott was part of Ohio State's national champion team in 2002. He was a regular his final three years as a Buckeye and registered 14-1/2 sacks and 137 tackles in those three seasons. But he racked up those numbers on Saturdays. Life will be different on Sundays.

"Everything I've learned in college is pretty much different now," he said. "Because of that I haven't really been able to get into my game. I think I need to come out here and be a little more comfortable with what I'm doing. I need to keep focusing on getting better."

Scott registered one tackle in the Vikings' first two preseason games.

"It's a lot faster game in the NFL," Scott said. "You really can't think too much. You just have to react. It's pretty much 90 percent reaction and 10 percent thinking."

If he had to issue himself a grade Scott would give himself a ‘C' so far in training camp. He hopes to improve his grades the final weeks leading up to the opener.

"It's been on-again, off-again, which really isn't too good," he said. "I feel like some days I really take steps forward, but then other days …"

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