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Old 02-03-2011, 06:12 AM   #1
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Default Collier: Journey of Steelers' Scott leads to movie-like role

Collier: Journey of Steelers' Scott leads to movie-like role
Thursday, February 03, 2011
By Gene Collier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Steelers offensive tackle Jonathan Scott.


Jonathan Scott's specific performances were not depicted in that wonderfully evocative "Friday Night Lights" movie, but the brand of high school football played at Dallas Carter was there in all its defiant, violent precision.

By the time Billy Bob Thornton and company brought Buzz Bissinger's landmark book to the big screen in 2004, the guy who will play left tackle for the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV had moved on to the University of Texas, but the locals remember him as a certifiable monster as a schoolboy road paver, knocking opponents flat with a percussive athleticism.

That kind of thing often enough results in a professional opportunity, particularly when you're 6 feet 6 and 318 pounds, even if Scott's NFL career hasn't exactly glistened.

"I never had any doubts about my ability to play," Scott said quietly Wednesday near the Steelers' practice site at TCU. "I never paid much attention to what people thought I could or couldn't do on the football field."

Still, it's hard not to notice when you're released by the Detroit Lions before their 0-16 autumn. Hard not to notice when the Buffalo Bills are willing to let you be a free agent. But in a turbulent year for Scott and a destabilized season for coach Mike Tomlin's offensive line, this former Dallas Carter stud emerged to help the Steelers into the first Super Bowl in his hometown.

"Those guys are survivors," Tomlin said Wednesday of his offensive line. "They've stepped up and proven that they're capable of being the reason we win."

Scott stepped in on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's blind side when Max Starks went to the injured reserve list after the game Nov. 8 at Cincinnati. Pass protection has remained something of an adventure ever since, but it would be wildly inaccurate to hang that exclusively on Scott.

The Steelers are 8-2 since Scott took over, and the offense that was averaging 19 points per game has pounded out 25 every 60 minutes since.

It's pretty remarkable when you consider that Scott's still transitioning out of grief. His father, a former lineman at Prairie View A&M who was drafted by the New York Jets in the late '60s, died last year after complications from back surgery.

"He's always in my heart," Scott said. "Sometimes, I can hear him on the field. He's telling me he's proud of me after a good play, or after a good game."

The good part of Scott's game Sunday will hinge on whether he can deal with his responsibilities along the right side of Green Bay's excellent defense, those being the ambitious neutralization of people such as Howard Green, a 340-pound nose tackle-turned-emergency defensive end, and linebackers Desmond Bishop and Erik Walden. They're just one flank of a Packers pass rush that would have been the most ruthless and sack-validated in the NFL were it not for the Steelers, who rang up a league-leading 48 sacks. Pack sacks totaled 47.

It's all a bit much for a guy with only two postseason starts on his resume, particularly against a backdrop where a couple of hundred-dozen acquaintances from Dallas Carter and the Longhorns are wondering if the great Scott can come through with Super Bowl tickets.

"That's where my mom comes in," Scott laughed. "She's my buffer. My rock."

The rock from which Scott seems to have launched his pro career in earnest would have to be Sean Kugler, a first-year Steelers offensive line coach whose recommendation helped to bring Scott to Pittsburgh. When director of football operations Kevin Colbert signed Scott in March, the Steelers still had starting tackles named Starks and Willie Colon. He represented needed depth, but the Steelers were not so enamored with his potential that they avoided signing Flozell Adams when Colon's Achilles tendon was ripped in June.

Then a funny thing happened as a result of some things that weren't so funny, like the Starks injury, the Trai Essex injury, the Chris Kemoeatu injury, and now the buckled ankle of Maurkice Pouncey, the only lineman to start every game besides Adams. What happened was that Scott not only benefitted from the continued exposure to Kugler, he came to a useful appreciation of the Steelers Way, if you will.

He embraced that thing Tomlin always says. The standard is the standard (even when the roster isn't the roster).

"This is an organization that is always geared toward, always striving for, greatness," Scott said. "They've been to eight Super Bowls, going for their seventh title, that's greatness. It's a great feeling to have a chance to be part of that legacy, part of that tradition.

"Any time you're part of something like that, you tend to do great things."

Putting his hands on a Lombardi Trophy would be a great climax to Scott's story. His dad would be so proud. You could make a movie out of that.

"Sometimes, I can hear [my father] on the field. He's telling me he's proud of me after a good play, or after a good game."
Gene Collier: gcollier@post-gazette.com.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11034...#ixzz1CtgrKMnD
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