Safety Nick Scott needs to show Rams something special in preseason finale at Houston
As a three-time Super Bowl champion and seven-time Pro Bowl selection, Matthew Slater of the New England Patriots is a role model for Rams rookie safety Nick Scott.
Slater is a special teams standout.
Scott, a seventh-round draft pick from Penn State, said he and special teams coordinator John Fassel sit down at least once a week for a film session to study Slater and other NFL special teams leaders.
“That’s exactly how I want to impact this team,” Scott said.
Scott’s final opportunity to show coaches he is worthy of a roster spot comes Thursday when the Rams play the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium.
In preseason games against the Oakland Raiders, Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos, Scott has played 100 defensive snaps and 38 special teams plays. Rams coach Sean McVay said Scott was “doing a great job” as part of the kickoff, kickoff-return, punt and punt-coverage units.
Los Angeles Rams bubble players will get their final chance to prove their roster-worthiness in Thursday’s preseason finale against the Houston Texans.
“Really similar when you look at the difference that a Slater made for New England, and that’s kind of what you hope the role is,” McVay said. “I think he’s done a pretty good job as a safety as well.”
Scott, 5-feet-11 and 201 pounds, played multiple positions in high school in Fairfax, Va., before going to Penn State as a running back.
In 2015, as a redshirt freshman, he was the Nittany Lions’ special teams player of the year. But as a running back “things weren’t going so well,” he said.
Penn State had a couple of pretty good running backs. Saquon Barkley, who would go on to become the second pick in the 2018 draft, was becoming a star. Penn State also brought in Miles Sanders, the Philadelphia Eagles second-round pick last April.
“It was around that time, I was like, ‘Maybe I’ll find a different route, try safety or something,’ ” Scott said.
But Scott sensed special teams would be his ticket to a possible NFL career.
“I had always sort of understood that special teams was, for a lot of guys, how you make the team, especially if you’re not that go-to starter,” he said. “My motivation was always to become the best safety I could be to get me a chance, and then let my ability on special teams take care of the rest.”
As a senior, Scott started at safety. He intercepted three passes and also recorded a sack. He was not invited to the NFL scouting combine, but Fassel called him from the event in Indianapolis to express his interest and tell Scott that he would remain in touch.
Rams’ preseason finale key for receivers KhaDarel Hodge and Jalen Greene, and defensive backs Darious Williams and Dont’e Deayon as they battle to make roster.
Fassel has a knack for developing special teams players into major contributors. Starting inside linebackers Cory Littleton and Bryce Hager remain special-teams stalwarts, as does backup running back Malcolm Brown, among others.
Scott knows the history.
“I’m just trying to do what I can to start on the core-four,” special teams, he said. “Not just start and play, but have a huge impact.”
First, Scott needs to secure a spot on one of the NFL’s most talented rosters.
After Thursday’s game, McVay and his staff will cut the roster from 90 players to 53. A maximum of 10 players can be signed to the practice squad. Much of the roster is set, but inside linebacker, cornerback and the offensive and defensive lines are position groups that could come under extra scrutiny on Thursday.
Some roster decisions will be influenced by a player’s performance on special teams. Scott said he welcomes the pressure.
“In any profession, when you’re hired, you’re expected to perform to the best of your ability,” he said, “or else they’re going to bring some else in.”
The Rams signed offensive lineman Abdul Beecham, an undrafted free agent who played at Kansas State. ... The Rams attended a kick-off charity luncheon in downtown Los Angeles before departing for Houston.
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