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A longtime key piece to Rams special teams, Nick Scott capitalizing on opportunities with defense

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – When Rams safety Nick Scott was younger, he and his three brothers would play a game with their dad in the backyard that their dad called, "How much do you want it?"

"My three brothers and I would probably stand about 30-40 yards away," he said in an episode of Behind the Grind published Aug. 8, "and he would just throw a ball up in the air as high as he could. And then, while the ball was in the air, he would yell, 'How much do you want it?' And we had to try to catch it."

Lately, he's been answering that question definitively.

Long a key component to the Rams' special teams, Scott – a 2019 seventh-round pick – is has been getting more chances to show what he can bring to the secondary this season.

"I mean, that's just, I wouldn't even say it's like actual thought," Scott told after Thursday's practice, when asked if that game is something he thinks about when making those plays. "It's just so ingrained in me, just from childhood and how I was raised with my older brothers and everything like that. So subconsciously, I don't know, maybe that plays a role into it. But you got to make the plays that you're supposed to make, for sure."

In the last three weeks, he's come away with game-sealing interceptions against the Seahawks (Oct. 7) and the Lions (Oct. 25). The Seahawks one was the first of his NFL career.

He's seen more time overall on defense in wake of cornerback Darious Williams (ankle) being placed on short-term Injured Reserve – his 33 defensive snaps against the Giants in Week 6 were a season-high; he then logged 20 against the Lions the following week, second-most behind those 33 snaps.

"I'm just grateful and thankful that I've earned my teammates and my coaches' trust to be out there," Scott said. "And obviously, whoever's out there has got to perform at the highest level possible, so that's what I'm trying to do. Just try and do my job and capitalize on the opportunities that I get."

Rams head coach Sean McVay said "it's been great" watching Scott take advantage of increased playing time, with Scott being the epitome of taking advantage of those opportunities that have been earned and stepping up when others are banged up.

"You originally draft him out of Penn State with the visions of him being special teams player, and all he's really shown is, 'Hey, I'm a great football player that has the ability to contribute on special teams. When I get my ops on defense, I can be a really productive safety,'" McVay said. "He does an excellent job in the deep part of the field. He's really closed out three games for us if you look at it. Closes out the Indianapolis game making a great tackle on the far sideline, ends up having the interception against Seattle, and then last week the interception (against Detroit). So he's been the closer for us. He's done a great job."

Scott has had plenty of motivation throughout his career, which began as a 12th-to-last player chosen in the 2019 NFL Draft. Selected No. 243 overall out of Penn State, he was a two-time team captain for the Nittany Lions special teams.

That carried over to the Rams, where he quickly became an integral part of their special teams execution.

Punter Johnny Hekker said Scott is someone they lean on heavily for that, as well as getting players in the right spots and making sure they know their assignments. Scott is also a veteran member of the unit that younger players can look to when it comes to the tempo of practice and what their technique should be, and gives keys and tips on what to look for during practice and during film sessions.

Hekker also praised Scott's attention to detail and work ethic that never changes, no matter his role. Between those qualities and Scott's progression, Scott's role on the Rams defense is "no surprise to us."

"He's just a guy that everyone counts on, and he's accountable, you can count on him," Hekker said. "So it's just fun to see him in that role. He enjoys it. It's not something that you easily just step into. A lot of guys come from college, they had a great offensive or defensive identity there, and then they come to the NFL and have to kind of kind of forge a new identity for themselves, so he just has taken it all in stride and really has been selfless in his approach and it's paying off. Love watching ball on defense, hoping that doesn't mean that we get less snaps on special teams from him, because we really need him."

No matter the scope of his role, what's kept Scott motivated is his faith, his parents and his wife, as well as his love for the game.

"Huge motivating factor, just, trying to be the best man and husband, I can be first and foremost, and all that kind of bleeds into the field, but just my love of the game," Scott said. "I love playing football. I love having fun. No matter what my role is, I'm always – I just feel blessed to be out on the field, and ultimately playing a game that I get paid to do, so it's fun."

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