Darrion Scott, a third-round draft pick by the Vikings in 2004, is kind of “the other guy” in the mix at defensive end. He was drafted the same year as Kenechi Udeze was taken in the first round by the Vikings. The following year (2005) the Vikings invested another first-round pick in a defensive end in Erasmus James. But, despite his draft status, it has been Scott who has thus far been the most consistently productive player of the trio.
When Udeze missed virtually all of the 2005 season, it was Scott who stepped in, recording 58 tackles and 4 quarterback sacks. And again last season, when James went down, he stepped up again with 46 tackles and a team-leading 5.5 sacks.
Scott is also a very stout run defender and was one of the key ingredients behind the team’s outstanding run defense a year ago.
This season he opens camp competing with Udeze for the starting left end spot, but it is clear that new defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier would like to have a regular game-day rotation of about six defensive linemen to keep everyone fresh and able to bring their “A” game on each and every play.
With that in mind, Scott could be a lock for such a swing role that would have him occasionally playing left end to spell Udeze, then moving inside alongside Kevin Williams on passing downs, or teaming with Pat Williams at times to give the other Williams a rest.
“With Darrion Scott and Kenechi Udeze, both guys are competing very hard,” Frazier said earlier this week. “They are doing a very good job and it is going to be quite a battle right on through training camp. It is great for our football team to have that type of competition, but it's going to be good for our team.”
It is clear that Frazier isn’t necessarily concerned with who formally earns the starting job.
“It will be important for us if they both play well,” he said. “It would be outstanding to have two guys who have the potential to start and it looks that may be the case. If that is, it makes us a better team because if something happens to one or the other, there is not much of a dropoff, or if we want to substitute, there is not much of a dropoff. So ideally you would like to have two guys really pushing and playing at a high level and right now we have that.”
Who plays when, where and how much will depend on productivity.
“It just depends on who's most productive,” according to Frazier. “You're going to always put the guy who is more productive on the field, but if they are both doing a very good job, you've got to put one guy as a starter so we choose one and work the other one into the rotation.”
The coaches like the idea of keeping their defensive linemen fresh.
“Yeah, that is what Karl Dunbar, our D-line coach, believes in and I do too,” Frazier added. “I think it's important to have those guys fresh, especially going into the fourth quarter. So that's a big part of it, to have quality depth, and that is what we are trying to find and identify in this training camp.”
That said, it sounds like Scott is a lock for one of those rotational roles on defense, playing both end and tackle, depending on the situation.
“He does,” Frazier said. “As a matter of fact, yesterday (Thursday) we had him inside and we are trying to find one more guys inside who can rush along with Kevin (Williams), and Darrion is showing the potential to be able to be that guy.”
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