LB Scott emerging from shadows

Ravens notebook

Kept under wraps by team, rookie free agent making strong impression in camp

Pro Football

April 28, 2002|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

In a span of a couple of days, Bart Scott has gone from NFL anonymity to the Ravens' starting lineup.

As a senior at Southern Illinois, Scott had a scheduled on-campus workout for all league scouts and only the Ravens showed up. Now, this little-known undrafted rookie free agent has been making a splash while subbing at inside linebacker for Ray Lewis, who is absent from this weekend's minicamp.

In yesterday's morning practice, Scott made the play of the day, stretching out to make a low, one-handed interception. Although he won't be replacing Lewis anytime soon, he has a strong shot at making the Ravens as a special teams performer.

"I'm trying not to get consumed by the moment," Scott said. "I have work to do. Right now, I haven't even earned the right to wear this uniform yet. That's what I'm down here doing, fighting for the opportunity to call myself a Raven. I think I'm getting a lot of experience running with the first team because they're always going to do everything right and they're going to hold me to that standard."

The Ravens stumbled upon Scott by accident. Ravens scout T.J. McCreight was talking with another NFL team scout, who mentioned that he looked at Scott but really didn't like him.

McCreight, though, was intrigued enough to watch film on Scott and came away impressed. Scott has never started at the same position two years in a row, playing outside linebacker, free safety, strong safety and middle linebacker. He's also a menace at blocking kicks.

The Ravens worked him out two more times and then vowed as a personnel department to never mention his name again. After the draft, the Ravens were the only team to offer him a contract.

"It truly goes to show that if you stay quiet, you can keep a secret in this league," said Phil Savage, the Ravens' director of college scouting.

On the way to his first meeting, Scott realized how much he had impressed the Ravens. He took a glance at the depth chart and noticed that he was starting at inside linebacker.

"It surprised the heck out of me," he said.

Now, the biggest adjustment for Scott is keeping from being star-struck. It still hasn't set in that his locker is beside Pro Bowl defensive end Michael McCrary.

"You kind of don't want to be a groupie," Scott said. "I play with [McCrary] on Madden [video game] and now I'm sitting next to him. I really want to ask for an autograph. But hey, I got to realize that he may possibly be my teammate."

Homecoming for Brightful

Return specialist Lamont Brightful feels quite at home these days.

A sixth-round draft pick, Brightful lived in Baltimore for three years. He attended West Baltimore middle school for two years and spent his freshman year at Dunbar High School. His father still lives here, and Brightful has visited the past couple of summers.

"At least I knew I was coming to familiar surroundings," said Brightful, who is generously listed at 5 feet 10, 170 pounds. "It was a nice little homecoming."

A wide receiver at Eastern Washington, Brightful has been working with the defensive backs in practice.

Challenges for Maese

Of the 42 rookies at this weekend's minicamp, two are long snappers.

It's a little surprising since the Ravens used a sixth-round pick last year on Joe Maese, who was placed on injured reserve in Week 17 after straining the medial collateral ligament in his left knee. Although Maese said he has fully recovered from the injury, the team brought in Wisconsin-LaCrosse's Mike Kraemer and Hawaii's Brian Smith to push him.

"It's always a competition," Maese said. "I would expect it every year that they would bring in a long snapper."

Polynesian connection

Offensive tackle Newel Matavao, an undrafted free agent from Northern State, had some inside help to get an invitation to Ravens' minicamp. Left guard Edwin Mulitalo put in a good word for Matavao, a fellow Polynesian who had Mulitalo in his wedding party.

Matavao is considered a long shot to make the roster.

"If he's not going to make the team, it's going to be on his talent," Mulitalo said. "It's not going to be his character, it's not going to be his work ethic. Hopefully, he can get ready between now and training camp so we have a couple of pineapples in the locker room."

End zone

Free-agent defensive tackle Larry Webster, who was a salary-cap casualty by the Ravens, signed a one-year deal with the New York Jets. He is the 10th Ravens free agent to sign with another team this off-season. ... The Ravens ended the afternoon practice with a turnover drill that was designed by special teams coach Gary Zauner. It's a series of seven stations where special teams players work on techniques to cause turnovers. ... The Ravens conclude their three-day minicamp with a morning practice today.

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