Trevor Scott said he wasn't surprised when the Raiders approached him about converting from defensive end to weakside linebacker, other than the news coming in the middle of the season. By now, Scott should be accustomed to changing positions.
Scott has responded in dramatic fashion to a hybrid position called the "Elephant," in which he plays linebacker most of the time and defensive end in certain situations.
"I'm having a blast out there," he said. "I don't think I've ever had as much fun playing football. I'm just doing so many different things. ... I rush, drop, roaming around and hitting all these different gaps."
It's quite a change from last season and the first 10 games this season, when Scott's responsibilities amounted to sticking his right hand on the ground, timing the snap and chasing the quarterback. Scott, 25, entered college at Buffalo as a tight end but switched to defensive end after two years.
Since Nov. 26, when the Raiders played Dallas on Thanksgiving, Scott has had the freedom to line up well off the line of scrimmage in pass coverage or stand closer to the line, where he can drop into coverage or blitz.
Scott's unpredictability on any given play has caused myriad problems for opposing offenses. He has recorded four sacks in the three games since the switch, broken up several passes and given defensive coordinator John Marshall an extra weapon.
"Trevor does a lot for the team in that role because it opens up a wide variety of things for us," linebacker Isaiah Ekejiuba said. "He can cover receivers, blitz or put his hand down and rush. His versatility allows us to do many things off the same look."
Most impressive, Scott picked up the nuances of the position in just three days of practice before the Raiders visited the Cowboys.
Converting to linebacker has forced Scott to learn new terminology, start from an upright position, learn to backpedal in pass coverage and cover receivers.
"What he's done is very impressive," Ekejiuba said, "because a lot of the terminology we use as linebackers is like a foreign language to a defensive lineman. He has picked it up in a hurry, in the middle of the season. He's having a great year."
Scott, 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds, had five sacks as a rookie last season, tying Kalimba Edwards for the team lead. Scott has six so far this season.
Scott's ability to make a seamless transition enabled Marshall to move Thomas Howard to strongside linebacker, long a problem area for the Raiders. The Raiders used four players at the strongside spot last season and three before Howard replaced Jon Alston and Sam Williams.
"You always try to do what gives you a good chance to succeed," Raiders coach Tom Cable said, "so if you want to improve an area, you make a move like we did. And, certainly, Trevor was able to go in and back it up."
Notes: Tight end Zach Miller (concussion), wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (foot) and defensive end Greg Ellis (knee) were among the players who missed practice Thursday. Miller will receive a series of tests today to determine whether he is healthy enough for Sunday's game at Denver, Cable said. He has suffered two concussions this season. Defensive end Matt Shaughnessy strained a groin during practice Thursday, but "he looks to be fine," Cable said. "... Oakland's 31-10 victory over the Broncos in Denver last season was its most lopsided victory since Oct. 23, 2005, when the Raiders beat the Buffalo Bills 38-17.