Like almost every other player in the Eagles locker room, running back Boston Scott was there on the sideline in the Superdome on Nov. 18 and was surprised at how thoroughly the Saints dominated the defending Super Bowl champions. The only difference is that Scott was on the other sideline as a member of the New Orleans practice squad.
A month later, after kickoff returner Corey Clement suffered a knee injury, the Eagles signed Scott off the Saints' practice squad and put him on the path that has led both Scott and the team back to the Superdome.
Scott was diplomatic this week when asked his impressions of the previous game. Rookies, particularly 5-foot-6 rookies drafted by another organization, are well-advised to be diplomatic.
“I’ve always had a tremendous amount of respect for the Eagles…for what they did last year and obviously what we’re doing this year,” Scott said. “I hadn’t seen a game like that where there were so many injuries in one game. I kind of felt for them. I knew they’d been plagued by injuries since the beginning of the year. That’s one of the biggest things I saw.”
In that 48-7 game, injuries were suffered by Jason Kelce, Jordan Hicks, Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox and Sidney Jones. Those probably didn’t change the outcome, but they didn’t help, either.
Since arriving here, Scott has fit in well after being activated for the last three games. He has returned six kickoffs for a total of 131 yards and been solid and secure with the ball. Scott has also been able to become friends with Darren Sproles, who, for obvious reasons, has been his idol for years.
“Oh, man. I’ve been watching that dude since Kansas State,” Scott said Thursday. “I’ve been keeping up with him for a big part of my career. In a lot of ways, I want to take things from his game and implement them into mine. I want to be my own player, but having him in the locker room and seeing his leadership and how he approaches the game as a pro, I can’t say enough about him. He definitely set the tempo for guys that look like me.”
Scott, who is from Zachary, La., near Baton Rouge, really started paying attention to Sproles during his own high school career when Sproles joined the Saints. It wasn’t just Scott’s dream to play in the NFL like Sproles, but to play for the Saints. That he was drafted in the sixth round (201st overall) by New Orleans, but didn’t get into an NFL regular-season game until joining the same team as Sproles is an eerie confluence.
“Crazy, huh?” Sproles said. “It’s definitely cool. We’re the same size, but he’s got a little more weight on him than me.”
Sproles, also listed at 5-6, is 190 pounds while Scott is a 203-pound fireplug. Both players had to fight the perception they were too small to play the game at the highest level. Just as Scott took his inspiration from Sproles, a few years earlier it was Sproles who followed the careers of 5-9 running back Warrick Dunn and 5-8 return specialist Dante Hall.
“We’ve been having the debate about who’s taller,” running back Wendell Smallwood said. “Scott might be a little taller, but I think we’ve got to put the measuring tape up. I will say I’m going to war with those guys any day.”
Scott had a strong preseason with the Saints, rushing for 121 yards on 25 carries, with one touchdown, and returning seven kicks for 188 yards. He believes that tape is what might have put him on the Eagles’ radar and ultimately led to his signing.
“I had a pretty good showing, and it’s the NFL. They’re always watching,” Scott said. “I just want to focus on doing the best I can right now and not worry about down the road. You never know how things are going to play out after the season ends.”
Of course, it will also be weird Sunday to be across the field from the Saints.
“I’ve been watching them a long time. My family are big-time Saints fans,” Scott said. “But they’re Boston Scott fans. I know they’ll support me, but they definitely like the Saints.”
Scott, a state high school powerlifting champion, was a walk-on at Louisiana Tech before earning a scholarship. You don’t get from walk-on in Ruston, La., to the NFL without having a little something to you, even if you are a little something yourself.
“That shaped my mind-set,” Scott said. “I’m thankful I was a walk-on. It set the tone for how to carry myself to make it to this league. You can’t be complacent. You always have to look to ascend.”
A player can reach for the clouds even if he’s a long way below them. Darren Sproles taught Boston Scott that lesson years ago. Now they are reaching together. It’s a good story, and it might not be over just yet.