When a player makes a conscious decision to change their career path, it is not a choice that is made lightly; especially when it involves a switch to the opposite side of the ball.
Many kids who start playing football at the Pop Warner level are generally learning a minimum of two positions: one on offense and the other defense. It might continue through middle school and high school.
For Larry Scott, his path to the NFL began with flag football. His favorite player to watch was Randy Moss. In an interview with The Oregonian in April 2015, he said, “Moss made me love the game. He truly made me love the game. Just the plays he made, the passion he played with. I didn’t say I wanted to be like him, but I wanted to play as big as him.”
Scott may have started on defense, but he eventually found himself lining up at wide receiver for the Corona Centennial Huskies, just up the road in Corona, CA. As a junior, he participated in nine games and finished with 535 receiving yards with seven touchdowns. His senior year (2010-2011) saw him play 14 games, where he exploded for 1,120 receiving yards, logging 12 scores. On the defensive side of the ball he made nine tackles with one interception and one pass defensed.
The 5-foot-11, 194-pounder was challenged by an auspicious beginning at Oregon State University, sustaining a knee injury in just his second fall appearance in his freshman year. Scott finally took the field in 2013 as a rotational player behind Rashaad Reynolds, notching an interception and a forced fumble along with nine tackles.
Then came 2014, the year Scott decided to really change things up. Scott tried out for and won the vacated starting cornerback spot. The results were 43 tackles, which included two tackles for loss, in 12 starts. His senior year at OSU wasn’t as productive, notching an additional 20 tackles (2 TFL). An ankle injury in late October limited him the next two games, ultimately causing him to miss the reminder of the season.
Scott will be facing heavy competition later this month for a spot on the team. To be sure, fourth-year man Steve Williams is looking to build on his 19 tackles, two interceptions season last year. Former practice squad player Richard Crawford (Oceanside High) is eyeing permanency, as is Greg Ducre. Second-year man Craig Mager is in the mix, also. Rounding out the rookie corners with aspirations to make the 53-man roster that Scott has to compete against are Terrell Chestnut and Trevor Williams.
Certainly, defensive coordinator John Pagano and secondary coach Ron Milus will have their hands full in the film room watching how each of these young men perform in drills. Who makes the cut versus practice-squad designation or is ultimately released will be determined by the end of the preseason. Some will see their dream reach fruition, while others will not be so lucky.
Larry Scott has the skills and abilities to be one of those who makes it through. He just has to continue on the path that has gotten him this far. I think he makes it.
Thanks for reading and I look forward to your comments!
The mantle has been passed.
When long-time defensive team captain Eric Weddle moved on to sign with the Baltimore Ravens in March of this year, it was the end of an era.
Now, the onus is on Jahleel Addae to take on a more prominent role in the secondary. The question is, can he?
In the offseason, Addae signed a one-year RFA (restricted free agent) tender for $2.553 million. Last year, the strong safety racked up 65 tackles and a sack. Four years in San Diego have given him 151 tackles, three sacks, four passes defensed, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
An undrafted free agent, Addae has been a part of the Bolts’ secondary longer than anyone else currently back there. He and defensive backs coach Ron Milus joined the Chargers in 2013. So, Addae should have a better grasp than the rest of that position group when it comes to what Milus is striving for out of his players in the secondary.
One of the challenges he faces is staying on the field. Now entering his fourth year with the Bolts, Addae has only managed to have one complete 16-game season (in 2013 as a rookie). Since then, he has missed parts of the last couple of campaigns with injuries to his ankle and hamstring. Let’s not forget there were two concussions, also.
Dubbed “The Hitman” by his fellow Chippewas at Central Michigan University, the ferocious hits that Addae has put on opponents have not only rattled them, but No. 37 himself. One such hit occurred in the October 23, 2014 game in Denver — a helmet-to-helmet collision with Broncos running back Juwan Thompson; the aftermath was disconcerting to many who witnessed Addae’s behavior. The safety is clearly seen experiencing some type of reaction to that impact. Though all on-field evaluations were negative, he was diagnosed with a concussion two days later. He did not miss any playing time.
Fast forward to 2016 and the expectations that Addae has for himself now that No. 32 is no longer across from him. Throughout OTAs, he has realized that he can take the knowledge learned from lining up opposite Weddle, use it to step up his game and become the leader that the young guys coming in need him to be. The offseason addition of former Colts’ safety Dwight Lowery should make that challenge seem less daunting.
Maturity and experience have also brought recognition of the example he needs to set with respect to those hits that he is so well-known for; putting himself on the bench due to injury as a direct result of one is not in his plans. As he recently stated, “I’m a physical safety. I love contact. But I know that I have to play smart. I’ve been hearing that since I’ve come into the league…My biggest goal is to play in all 16. And I feel I’ll be able to do that.”
Will Addae lead the secondary in helping the team overcome a forgettable 4-12 season? I believe he can. It is on him now to mentor the youth movement and be the voice of experience.
Thanks for reading!
The excitement surrounding the secondary of the 2015 San Diego Chargers was palpable heading into the regular season. What they lack in size – as not one is taller than 5-feet-11 – they make up for in experience. Consider that the on-field leader for these men is eight-year veteran and three-time Pro Bowler Eric Weddle, a guy who is matched in intensity only by the Bolts’ offensive signal caller, Philip Rivers. There are only two other Pro Bowlers in this unit, Brandon Flowers and Darrell Stuckey. For a bunch of men who were primarily drafted in rounds one through four, they should be performing at a high level. At least that is how it shakes out on paper.
Chargers fans are quite obviously frustrated with the product appearing on the field these past four weeks. So, what seems to be the problem? Injuries have a role, but so do ridiculous penalties when the team has the opponent stopped and a chance to get the ball back into the hands of No. 17. What lengths do secondary coach Ron Milus and his assistant Greg Williams have to go to so that this bunch does what it is paid to do? With the Pittsburgh Steelers coming to town for a Monday Night game, and even if Ben Roethlisberger isn’t under center, this unit needs to be prepared.
Let’s review some of the issues through the first month of the season.
First and Foremost: Get healthy, stay healthy!
Of the four designated starters: free safety Eric Weddle, strong safety Jahleel Addae, left cornerback Brandon Flowers, and right cornerback Jason Verrett – only Weddle has started each game. Opposite him, Addae has been nursing a sore ankle since the Cincinnati game. Additionally, Flowers (knee/concussion) and Verrett (foot) have been in and out of the lineup. Milus has had his own merry-go-round to manage due to injury, shuffling corner/safety Jimmie Wilson as well as safety Adrian Phillips, plus corners Patrick Robinson and Steve Williams into the lineup. Rookie cornerback Craig Mager was finally on the field against the Minnesota Vikings only to be inactive last week with a bum hamstring. As of this writing (Friday) Addae, Verrett and Mager are still on the injury report though with limited participation in practice. Who suits up this week will be of utmost importance against the Steelers.
Although there have only been five penalties, the fact remains that they have come at inopportune times. Two by Verrett gave the Cincinnati Bengals a new set of downs TWICE; both were 15-yard personal foul infractions. In the game against the Minnesota Vikings, Williams was flagged for a costly pass interference (PI) which set up the Vikings at midfield rather than punting. Against the Cleveland Browns last week, Williams was called for illegal use of hands. And in the same matchup, Flowers was nailed for a PI which fortunately only cost six yards. Five penalties in four games by just the secondary is not conducive to winning. This area needs to be addressed.
Tackling by the numbers
As per usual, Weddle leads the posse with 38 combined tackles (29 solos), plus half a sack. Addae has managed four solo tackles in two games. Flowers has collected eight solo tackles (10 total), while Verrett has been credited with six overall (4 solo). The back-ups (Wilson, Robinson, Phillips and Williams) collectively have 42 tackles, a forced fumble (Robinson) and two picks (Robinson versus Detroit and Williams at Minnesota). In 2014, the secondary was responsible for six interceptions on the year. Is having two thus far a good measuring stick for Milus’ men? Time will tell.
Despite the secondary undergoing a bit of upheaval early in the season courtesy of the injury bugaboo, Milus and Williams seem to have their group on the right path. However, they will need to step it up and play smart. Meaning, no getting beat, no dumb penalties, no blown coverages. Monday’s AFC divisional face-off with Pittsburgh will be a turning point as the Bolts’ secondary will need to play it tight – keep Antonio Brown and company in check.
Here’s to execution being stellar this week!
Thanks for reading!