Scott taking advantage of opportunity


Published: Saturday, January 16, 2010 at 9:08 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 16, 2010 at 9:08 p.m.

Ian Scott admits it. He was beginning to lose hope.

A late (and unexpected) cut by the San Diego Chargers in the preseason, the 6-foot-3, 315-pound former Florida Gator defensive tackle was asked by the team to stick around Southern California in case something changed.

"We didn't want to let him go in the first place," coach Norv Turner said. "We agonized over having to make that move."

A month passed, and Scott, just 28, was beginning to wonder if there was still a place for him in the NFL. Sure, the preseason had seen him slowed by a knee injury, but that had fully healed, making the cerebral seven-year veteran an option for any team looking for a run-stuffer who was adept at the unselfish role of occupying blockers as the nose tackle in a 3-4 defense.

He knew he could help someone, but needed an opportunity. Sometimes, it was tough to stay positive, and Scott said he contemplated moving himself, wife Crystal, daughters Skylar and Savannah and son, J.J., back to Gainesville.

"Honestly I'm not sure what the plan was," Scott said in an e-mail. "I was going to wait out the season before making any permanent decision.

"The first thing would have been to finish school and then go from there. I really had no idea what the Chargers' plan was for me.

"I struggled believing there would be a chance to continue playing, but Crystal never lost faith. She was great and supportive, which helped a bunch. I was definitely very surprised and excited when I got the call back."

That came with San Diego 2-2 and coming off a bye week.

Scott was re-signed after the Chargers cut veteran safety Clinton Hart. The former Gainesville High School standout was called into action immediately, as three-time Pro Bowler Jamal Williams had been lost for the season after tearing his triceps in a Week One 24-20 victory at Oakland, free agent signee Travis Johnson was working through a sore groin and rookie Ogemdi Nwagbuo wasn't ready to contribute full-time.

San Diego lost that Monday night affair, 34-23, but has reeled off 11 consecutive wins since then and enters this afternoon's Divisional playoff game against the visiting New York Jets with a 13-3 record, good for the No. 2 seed in the AFC.

Scott, who has 16 tackles and a sack, has been praised by coaches and teammates for his contributions. And he said it is easy to pinpoint why the Chargers haven't lost in nearly three months.

"I think the biggest reason for the run is the way coach Turner is able to refocus the team each week on the task at hand," said Scott, a starter for the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI. "There hasn't been any looking forward or crazy up and downs. Everything has been one step at a time and focusing on what our team can control which has worked for us.

"Now, it's time to take advantage of this opportunity."

Scott knows a little something about that.

John Patton can be reached at 352-374-5074 or by email at pattonj@gvillesun.com.

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