Missed tackls didn't help Scott

Missed tackls didn't help Scott

Twelve games and 11 months after Brian Westbrook ran through his attempted tackle to set up Philadelphia's first touchdown in the NFC title game, Bryan Scott finally lost his starting job Thursday.

Coach Jim Mora confirmed that Ronnie Heard, who worked as a backup for him in San Francisco from 2000-03, will debut at free safety Monday night when the Falcons host New Orleans.

Scott reached his nadir as a defender in a 24-6 loss at Carolina last week. DeShaun Foster cast him aside on a 30-yard run that helped put the Panthers in position for their first touchdown. One defensive series later, Scott whiffed on an attempted tackle of Steve Smith as the receiver ran down the Atlanta sideline for an 18-yard score.

The Falcons drafted Scott in the second round out of Penn State three years ago and decided to play him at cornerback. That experiment ended midway through his rookie year with Atlanta on track to allow the second-highest yardage total in NFL history.

Former defensive coordinator Wade Phillips benched both cornerbacks, Ray Buchanan and Tyrone Williams, plus free safety Keion Carpenter in favor of Juran Bolden, Tod McBride and Scott. Corey Hall moved from strong safety to free safety, but Scott was the player who showed the most promise.

He had three interceptions, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, two sacks for minus-17 yards and seven passes defensed over his next 13 games. Unfortunately, Scott's success declined after he suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter of a Week 5 loss to Detroit last year.

Over the next 25 games, Scott managed just one interception with zero fumbles forced and one recovered. He had 11 passes defensed and 1 1/2 sacks for minus-14 yards. Few safeties play in schemes designed for them to rack up high interception totals, but the position is supposed to strike a semblance of fear into receivers who cross midfield on crossing routes or slant patterns.

That's no longer the case with Scott.

Heard started 14 games last year with the 49ers, who signed him as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Ole Miss five years ago. He has spent most of his career as a backup and a special teams contributor.

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