- Jane McManus, Reporter & Columnist, espnW.com
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- You could hear Bart Scott's husky voice yelling from the field house to the far practice field at the Jets' facility Thursday.
At the team's final organized team activity of the offseason, the Jets linebacker was all over the field in coverage -- and loud about it, telling one rookie running back he needs a wristband if he can't remember basic plays and suggesting backup quarterback Tim Tebow simply hand the ball off if he's just going to throw one-yard passes.
"It's very competitive, and then Bart makes it even more competitive with how much he's talking out there," Tebow said with a wry smile.
One player asked coach Rex Ryan if the volume could be turned down on Scott, who was making it clear that the defense was having the better day.
"I am like, 'No. This is exactly the guy we brought in,'" Ryan said.
And that is exactly the guy who was on hiatus last season. Scott was on the roster and in practice, but he was a disgruntled version of himself.
Take the scene from the final day of the 2011 season. Scott sneered his way out of a dysfunctional locker room after cleaning out his belongings, flipping off one cameraperson while no-commenting to reporters.
The resulting picture spoke volumes.
"I don't think last year was fun for a lot of people, but I think it was more evident with me because I'm known for being someone who always has fun," Scott said.
Which is why his demeanor Thursday was such a marked change.
"I'm at peace," Scott said. "It is what it is. Go out, have fun, play football, realize how blessed I am to have the opportunity to play football. Sometimes you have to step back from the situation, and it's hard to step back from the situation when you're in it."
Last season, Scott found himself used less and less on the field. He took it hard and was far from his gregarious self in the locker room. For a long stretch, he declined all interviews, intimating that his performance needed to improve before he felt up to talking.
"Last year, for whatever reason, I think part of it was our plan for Bart wasn't what it should have been," Ryan said.
At the end of last season, many assumed Scott had played his final down in green and white. It was a precipitous decline for the linebacker, who was the first player Ryan sought out after jumping to the Jets' head-coaching job from his position as Ravens defensive coordinator. At midnight on the first night of free agency in 2009, Scott heard his dogs barking as Ryan ventured up the driveway.
Scott, and his mouthy brand of leadership, was to be the anchor of the new Jets defense, and Ryan wanted to be the first at Scott's door. The idea of being such a coveted commodity won Scott over.
"I turned down money to come here," Scott said.
For the first two seasons, Scott was the player Ryan needed, so it doesn't go unnoticed when Scott feels like he is again backing up his mouth with his performance.
"Bart has the most fun out of everybody," quarterback Mark Sanchez said. "He's a good reminder on how important this game is to him and how you have to fun and smile. It's a reminder about how lucky we are to be playing and competing against each other."
In the offseason, Scott got back into optimal shape. He said he lost about nine pounds, and he is faster and more effective in practice than he was last season.
"I don't know if this isn't the best Bart Scott we have had since I have been here with the Jets," Ryan said. "I think he is better now than the first year we brought him in here. He is running great, he is in super shape, he is smart, he is really leading. I think that was what we needed."
Ryan pointed to a recent example in practice with Scott against running back Joe McKnight.
"He ran with a wheel route the other day by Joe McKnight, and he was staying on top," Ryan said. "It was a veteran move. He saw the thing and started heading deep. There are very few linebackers in the league that can run with Joe McKnight. I am not saying Bart can, but he did."
As for some of his remarks cutting a little too close, such as calling out that rookie running back, Scott said rookies are fair game.
"They're still in college at the student center," said the veteran.
The old Bart Scott is back with his mouthy leadership and fun-loving enthusiasm.