Scott’s Play Keeps Watkins On Sideline

Jake Scott doesn’t have some dramatic tale to tell about how he spent time preparing for his return to the NFL.

“Worked out four times a week at Vanderbilt,” Scott said. “Stay in shape. Do what I needed to do to be ready.”

That was it. An unsigned free agent for the first 10 weeks of the season, Scott did some work in the weight room. Some conditioning. Maybe a session on the field. Usually no more than 90 minutes per day.

“You play professional football,” Scott said. “If they call you up and say come play, you’ve got to be ready to come play.  You don’t go in and say ‘Well, I’ll be ready three weeks from now.’ You signed me to play this week. I’ll be ready to play this week.”

Scott has come in and played well, starting the last three games at right guard. Nick Foles has been sacked just twice in the last two games, and Bryce Brown has averaged an absurd 8.1 yards per carry on 43 attempts.

Scott and rookie Dennis Kelly have played surprisingly well together on the right side. Kelly, a rookie fifth-round pick, has started the last three games at right tackle.I asked him how playing alongside a veteran like Scott, who has 124 starts under his belt, has helped him.

“Just kind of little tidbits here and there to try and improve something that might not be broken, but maybe a little different approach might give you an extra 5 yards, that extra hole that Bryce has been able to find lately,” Kelly said. “So his experience is definitely something that has helped this line tremendously.”

Of course, Scott’s play has kept Danny Watkins on the sideline. The former first-round pick had been battling an ankle injury, but make no mistake about it. His health has very little or nothing to do with the fact that he’s being replaced by Scott.

“He’s right about there, and he worked in a little bit at the left guard last week when we had people banged-up just a little bit,” Reid said. “I think the group that’s playing right now is a positive. I’m sticking with that group as we speak. They’re playing well together.”

Watkins started the first six games, then sat out for three weeks and has played a reserve role in the last three. While Watkins wasn’t in the locker room before today’s practice, veteran Evan Mathis said he can relate to what the second-year player is going through.

“I told Danny in my third year, I played two snaps of football,” Mathis said. “Your future is in your own hands, and it’s still early for him. He still has a bright future ahead of him.”

But is it hard to stay positive?

“It’s really hard. I’ve been there. It’s really hard to stay positive. That’s why I try to tell him those kinds of things. Keep your head up. Keep working. Take every day as an opportunity to work to get better.”

Watkins will continue to try and do that in practice, while Scott will likely finish out the season on the field.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.