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mesaSteeler
09-18-2010, 09:24 AM
Hills, Scott reunited with Steelers
Saturday, September 18, 2010
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10261/1088512-66.stm

Jonathan Scott and Tony Hills were more than offensive linemates at the University of Texas, where they protected the quarterback they will watch from the other sideline Sunday -- Vince Young.

Scott and Hills were roommates and best friends, even though they were two years apart, and they kept in touch with each other after they were drafted by different teams in the National Football League.

Scott, the starting left tackle on the Longhorns' national championship team in 2006, introduced Hills to the woman who became Hills' wife, and Scott was in the wedding when the couple married in June.

"He considers me his big brother," Scott said.

Dennis Dixon probably will consider Scott in the same vein when the Steelers (1-0) play the Tennessee Titans (1-0) at 1 p.m. Sunday in Nashville, Tenn. At the very least, Dixon will hope Scott does for him what he did for Young with the Longhorns -- protect his blind side.

After starting eight games last season for the Buffalo Bills and signing as a free agent with the Steelers, Scott will start for injured Max Starks (ankle) against the Titans, who had four sacks in a victory Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.

The Steelers signed Scott, 6 feet 6, 318 pounds, soon after Sean Kugler was hired from the Bills to be the Steelers' offensive line coach. When right tackle Willie Colon had surgery for a torn Achilles tendon, ending his season, Scott was going to be the starter at right tackle until veteran Flozell Adams was signed the week before training camp.

"It was kind of an opportunity to be with an organization that prides itself on a winning tradition," said Scott, who signed a one-year, $545,000 contract with the Steelers. "It was like a blessing having a coach familiar with my play and the Steelers actually wanting me to be here."

They weren't the only ones.

Hills, a fourth-round pick in 2008, has been invigorated about having his best friend next to him in the locker room.

After two seasons in which he dressed for only one game, Hills was one of the surprise performers in training camp. He went from a player on the cusp of being cut to earning a spot on the 53-man roster with his improved play, especially in the run game.

"It helped a lot," Hills said of Scott's arrival. "He got into league before me and has been picking up new tricks from different teams. Just having somebody to bounce ideas off of in my sets and seeing different things in film study is fun."

Hills has progressed dramatically since last season but not enough to convince the coaches that he, not Scott, should start against the Titans.

Nonetheless, he thinks he is on the right track, knowing he convinced them that he can play in the NFL -- something that was a matter of debate going into training camp.

"I wouldn't say I felt a sense of urgency to prove anything; I just felt like I knew I had to get better," Hills said. "I knew coming in to my third year, that's the time guys make a big jump. I knew if I wanted to get out on that field, I had to make a big jump. So, basically, I had to grow up. I feel like I'm doing that."

Hills said he thinks Young has done the same thing with the Titans, who are 9-2 since the former Longhorns quarterback replaced Kerry Collins after an 0-6 start in 2009.

Hills was the backup right tackle when Scott was the starter at left tackle on Texas' national championship team. And Scott remembers one thing clearly about their 2006 Rose Bowl victory against Southern California.

"There was a lot of high intensity and everybody had that will-to-win type of attitude," Scott said. "That's in Vince's DNA."



NOTES -- Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu returned to practice, one day after he was excused to be with his wife, who gave birth to a boy. So did cornerback Bryant McFadden (groin), who practiced Thursday. ... It is possible quarterback Byron Leftwich (sprained MCL) could dress as the No. 3 quarterback, but he will not play against the Titans. ... Rookie Antonio Brown likely will be the No. 4 receiver against the Titans.


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