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Scott, Woodson don’t compare _ yet

August 14, 1997

LATROBE, Pa. (AP) _ From the minute he reported to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ training camp a month ago, rookie cornerback Chad Scott has been compared to Rod Woodson.

``I wish they wouldn’t do that,″ Scott said.

Right now, they aren’t.

Scott had a humbling debut as one of two new starting cornerbacks, repeatedly being beaten by Eagles receiver Michael Timpson for big yardage in Pittsburgh’s 42-26 exhibition victory Monday.

Playing in Three Rivers Stadium for the first time, Scott was the primary cover man as Timpson made five catches for 72 yards. Timpson’s receiving was about the only positive note for the Eagles’ starters as they fell behind 28-6 in the first half.

Welcome to the NFL, Chad Scott:

_ On the second play from scrimmage, Timpson turned the Steelers’ first-round draft pick inside out for a 19-yard gain _ the kind of pivotal play that potentially can swing the early momentum of a game. Scott failed to make the tackle five yards off the line of scrimmage, and Timpson broke free to gain 14 more yards.

_ Early in the second quarter, Timpson’s 24-yard touchdown catch of Ty Detmer’s pass on a hitch-and-go play cut Pittsburgh’s lead to 14-6. Scott was not beaten off the ball, but Timpson still led him by a step.

_ On the Eagles’ final drive of the half, Timpson had catches of eight and 10 yards on consecutive plays, then made a 13-yard reception on a third-and-3 play. That catch at the Steelers’ 28 set up Detmer’s 14-yard scoring pass to Irving Fryar with 24 seconds remaining in the half.

Timpson’s effectiveness was magnified because his statistics were for only one half. Both teams’ regulars sat out all or most of the second half.

Tough night, huh?

``I felt a little anxiety out there,″ Scott said.

Funny, but Steelers coach Bill Cowher didn’t.

Cowher shrugged off Scott’s off night, suggesting it was exactly the kind of not-costly learning experience that illustrates the differences between college football and the NFL.

``Chad Scott is going to be fine _ just fine,″ Cowher said. ``I like the look in his eyes, the way he plays the game.″

At Maryland, Scott was an aggressive hitter who almost dared receivers to tread on his turf. But in the NFL, receivers are just as tall and fast as the cornerbacks and safeties who cover them, thereby lessening the intimidation factor. And NFL quarterbacks often throw the ball to a spot on the field rather than to the open man, as most college quarterbacks do.

``I’ll be learning from my mistakes,″ Scott said. ``I’ll watch a lot of tape this week and see what I did wrong. You’re going to get beat when you’re a cornerback, and I never said that I wouldn’t. The best athletes in the world are in the NFL. You just have to put it behind you and go on to the next play.″

The Steelers employed nearly the same strategy last spring when Woodson, a Pro Bowl corner for most of his 10 NFL seasons, demanded a raise from his $3 million-a-season salary. With the Steelers straining to stay under the salary cap after signing running back Jerome Bettis to a $14.4 million contract, and with Woodson coming off an admittedly off season, their offer was much less.

So, when Steelers drafted Scott and signed free agent cornerback Donnell Woolford within a span of an hour on draft day, Woodson’s career in Pittsburgh was effectively over.

That almost meant the inevitable comparisons between Woodson and Scott were only beginning, even though Scott plays right cornerback _ the position vacated when Willie Williams signed with Seattle. Woolford has replaced Woodson at left corner.

``Every day, somebody compares me to Rod,″ Scott said. ``Rod was on the (NFL’s) 75th anniversary team. I really don’t think there is any comparison.″

But if Scott is in the lineup for the Aug. 31 opener against Dallas, he will accomplish something that even Woodson didn’t by starting his first NFL game.

The last Steelers’ rookie cornerback to start his first game was Ron Johnson in 1978, the third of the team’s four Super Bowl championship seasons.

``I’m not going to be afraid of Dallas, and I’m not going to be afraid of him,″ Scott said, referring to Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin. ``I’m just going to go out and play football the way I can play. I’m looking forward to it.″

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