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SMALL MAN, BIG IMPACT: Saints Rookie RB Boston Scott Earns Key Offensive Role Much Quicker Than Expected

When the New Orleans Saints selected diminutive 5-foot-6 RB Boston Scott 4 months ago, they did so even knowing that he was actually the physically SMALLEST player available in the entire 2018 NFL Draft Class.

But never in their wildest dreams did they ever think that the former Louisiana Tech University star would have such a BIG IMPACT for the team this quickly.

Scott also figures to see significant opportunities as a return man on punts and kickoffs; as he will become the 2nd straight rookie at the running back position to see significant action in the team's offense just one year after the team drafted 2017 NFL Rookie of the Year Alvin Kamara.

Ironically, it's being Kamara's primary back-up for at least the first 4 weeks of the season — beginning first with next Sunday's 2018 Regular Season home opener against Tampa Bay at the Superdome — which is the role that Scott will be filling after the Saints cut Jonathan Williams on Saturday, Mike Triplett of ESPN.com reported initially late yesterday afternoon.

Yesterday's somewhat surprising release of the 3rd year star Williams leaves just Kamara, Scott and RB/FB/special-teams specialist Trey Edmunds among running backs on New Orleans' roster. So it's possible the Saints will look to add another player at the RB position early next week. Either way, Triplett says that Scott should be an intriguing and exciting player to watch early on. 

Scott's role likely will come with many more opportunities for him to see touches, and especially at the RB spot; given that Saints head coach Sean Payton has been clear about his desire to avoid overworking Kamara. 

Scott made a VERY strong impression on the offensive coaching staff during the just-recently-completed 2018 NFL Pre-Season with 25 carries for 121 yards and a touchdown, though he only caught three passes for 18 yards.

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

But with the release of WR Brandon Tate, Scott will undoubtedly see an increase of chances to return kickoffs as well as a few punts, which have re-fueled comparisons to former Saints star and Philadelphia Eagles RB Darren Sproles, However to his credit, Scott has shown everyone that he CAN PLAY like Sproles in some similar ways, which no doubt is a pleasing sight for Payton.

Sproles was actually the last Saints player to do both, which came during his final year as a Saint during the 2013 season.

In that 2013 season while still in the Black and Gold, Sproles played in 15 regular season games, running for 220 yards and 2 touchdowns on 53 carries, making 71 catches for 604 yards and 2 touchdowns, ran back 12 kickoff returns for 225 yards, and fielded 29 punt returns for 194 yards, for a New Orleans team that finished (11-5) that season.

But amazingly, Sproles' overall numbers at returning both during his 3 years total in NOLA were actually quite modest. In his 3 years spent with the Saints, Sproles fielded 8 punts for 64 yards, and ran back 10 kickoffs for 223 yards.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

That was it.

Last season in Ruston, Scott returned a total of 10 kickoffs for 183 yards, an 18.3 average per return. Scott split kick return duties over his final three seasons with the Bulldogs,and while he didn’t return a single punt in any of Louisiana Tech's games, he did practice returning them as well. He was also part of the punt coverage team.

In any event, now he we are approximately 5 years later, and perhaps we'll get to see if the Saints have finally found a player who can successfully do both again with the dynamic young rookie Scott.

Scott is a native of Zachary, La., which is a suburb of Baton Rouge; and he has become very popular among Saints fans during his brief time in NOLA.

Scott attended Zachary High School, where he lettered in football, soccer and track. But unfortunately because of his diminutive size, Scott never received much attention during his recruitment process, eventually settling to walk on at Louisiana Tech in 2013.

After redshirting as a freshman for the 2013 season, Scott ended up playing four seasons in Ruston; rising up the Bulldogs depth chart as both a running back and kick returner before earning honorable mention All-Conference USA recognition after his senior year in 2017.

(Photo credit: Hannah Baldwin/The Monroe (La.) News-Star)

During his senior season, Scott rushed rushed for more than 1,000 yards, becoming the starting running back halfway through the season, and his eight touchdowns helped the Bulldogs to their fourth straight winning season and fourth consecutive bowl victory, defeating SMU, 51-10, in the inaugural Frisco Bowl in Frisco, Texas last December.

Scott would seem to be a prime candidate specifically to be the back-up for Kamara, given their similar running styles. Every Saints fan will remember how bad the Saints running game appeared to struggle when Kamara sustained a concussion in the Week #13 loss at Atlanta on Thursday Night Football.

Having Scott now to fill in if such an injury were to happen Kamara again, was obviously a factor that weighed in to the organization's decision to select the electrifying 22-year old; as well as their decision to release Williams yesterday. Clearly if there's any similarities between Scott and Kamara, it's their speed and elusiveness.

"We are working with him as a returner, but the thing that caught our eye was him with the ball in his hands as a runner," Payton told reporters as recently as last week.

The folks over at Pro Football Focus chose Scott for the 2017 All-Conference USA First Team Offense, and since his numbers weren't all that overwhelming last season, it's likely Scott was still chosen because of his 4.2 yards after contact and 45 forced missed tackles on 180 touches.

In other words: Scott is extremely hard to take down — and no doubt yet another trait that Payton finds very appealing.

(AP Photo/Butch Dill)

"That's why I love playing these Pre-Season games, being able to show them I can break tackles, I can make guys miss", Scott said to reporters a few days ago.

Meanwhile as a senior last season, Scott only caught 20 passes for an additional 181 receiving yards. So he wasn't utilized anywhere nearly as much as a receiver out of the backfield, in the way that the Saints utilize Kamara.

Clearly, Scott has a long way to go to match Kamara in that department, though it wasn't his fault that he wasn't utilized more as a receiver out of the backfield in the Bulldogs offensive scheme ar Louisiana Tech.

Nevertheless: Scott's defined role specifically moving forward will be to serve primarily to give Kamara the occasional "breather", while contributing on special teams in any way possible either as a return man or on the punt / kickoff coverage units.

Boston Scott might have been the physically smallest man in the entire 2018 NFL Draft — but he will have a big impact for the New Orleans Saints as a rookie much quicker than anyone ever expected.......

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Saints News Network Editor / Featured Columnist Barry Hirstius is a 51-year old semi-retired journalist, former New Orleans-area sports editor, and columnist previously with several sites that exclusively cover the New Orleans Saints football team. Additionally, he is a recurring guest on a variety of local Sports Talk Radio programs. Barry is also a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the team while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium in the early 1970’s, originally following and now covering the team for a span of over 40 plus years. And perhaps most importantly of all: he is the Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity.....

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