LAKE FOREST — Trivia time. What Bears defensive end not named Jared Allen has recorded seven sacks in a single season?
Need a clue? He’s new to the team this year and began his career with the Oakland Raiders.
One more hint: His 40-yard dash time ranks as the best among any Bears defensive lineman.
Chances are Trevor Scott wasn’t the first name that came to mind, but he’s the correct answer.
Scott, 29, was signed to a one-year contract a week before the beginning of free agency, when the prospect of the Bears landing Lamarr Houston, Willie Young and Jared Allen to fortify their edges was merely a pipe dream. He might have been your second or third thought now that that dream is reality, but Scott isn’t thinking twice about his decision to sign with the Bears.
“We are deep on the defensive line, but that’s what makes for great competition,” Scott told Chicago Football last Thursday, the final day of the Bears’ offseason program before a month-long break prior to training camp opening. “The top will rise.”
A fast rise accurately describes the start of Scott’s NFL career. The Raiders’ sixth-round draft pick out of Buffalo in 2008, the converted college tight end, with just two years of defense under his belt at the time, tallied 12 combined sacks while appearing in all 32 games at both end and linebacker in his first two seasons. His performance earned Scott a starting job in 2010, before a torn ACL suffered in Week 11 halted his quick ascent.
The timing couldn’t have been worse. Scott’s comeback attempt was marred by the NFL lockout, an offseason in which injured players were left twisting in the wind – without the benefit of supervision by team trainers – and Scott fell out of the rotation in 2011, his final year in Oakland.
“It was just my path in the league,” he recalls. Scott would land with the Patriots in 2012, notching three sacks while working mostly in a rotation, before signing in Tampa prior to the third preseason game last year.
It’s been a circuitous NFL route for Scott, one that has given him a fresh perspective on his latest opportunity with the Bears.
“I was very fortunate the Bears called in the offseason,” he said. “Everything has gone pretty smooth. It was nice to get into an offseason program this year, just learning about what “The Bear Way” is."
In his fourth NFL lockerroom, Scott has a unique take on how “The Bear Way” differs from other clubs.
“This lockerroom is different in the fact that we all kind of roll in one group,” he said. "It wouldn’t be uncommon for someone to go up to another person and tell them, ‘you need to pick it up out there’ – we’re real honest with each other.”
It’s been a familiar refrain this offseason at Halas Hall among new Bears, who've lauded the family atmosphere and level of trust coach Marc Trestman and his club have created. General manager Phil Emery’s burgeoning reputation as a closer goes hand in hand with Chicago becoming a desirable destination for free agents.
As for Scott, who began to carve out a role with the second team playing opposite Willie Young this offseason, he’s anxious to display the impressive speed and quick-twitch skills that blazed his early NFL trail.
“4.54,” he said with a chuckle, when I incorrectly referenced his 4.55 Pro Day 40-time. “Physically,” he added, “I feel fantastic. I’m just real proud to be here and just anxious to show what I can do.”
Scott understands his chances of earning a roster spot likely are tied to “making plays on special teams.” Nonetheless, since departing Halas Hall last Thursday, his chances seem to have improved. Israel Idonije has since been released, and fourth-string end Cornelius Washington picked the wrong way to be noticed with his traffic arrest in Georgia.
Scott prefers to worry about what he can control, though: focusing on every snap, putting his best effort on tape and being himself. Like former Raiders teammate Lamarr Houston, who he said “has been totally nasty since Day One in Oakland; just an absolute dog on the football field,” Scott believes he can provide a similarly rugged presence to a Bears’ defense desperately seeking to regain its edge.
“Our first priority is stopping the run, and we have all the guys in place to do that,” Scott said. “Everything after that is just getting after the quarterback, and we’re definitely going to get the job done this year.”
Scott has shown throughout his career that he knows the way home as a pass rusher. His confidence and comfort level suggests he's determined to do whatever it takes to call Chicago home in 2014.