Colts defender switching positions
By Tom Williams
As he transitions to a not-exactly-new position, Colts linebacker John Simon says he’s 100-percent recovered from a shoulder injury. Simon, a Cardinal Mooney graduate, started nine games in 2017 in his first season with Indianapolis, then went on injured reserve in early December.
A fourth-round draft pick by the Baltimore Ravens in 2013, Simon said he was able to fully participate in the Colts’ recent minicamp and OTAs.
“I had a good one and am looking forward to the season,” said Simon who took part in Friday’s seventh annual Inspiring Minds benefit golf outing at Avalon Lakes. “It’s good to take some shots to the head and some shots to the shoulder to see how everything is holding up.”
Things have changed drastically for the Colts since Simon last played. Head coach Chuck Pagano was fired and replaced with Frank Reich, the offensive coordinator for the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.
Matt Eberflus, formerly the Dallas Cowboys linebacker coach, is the Colts’ new defensive coordinator. The team is shifting to a 4-3 defense, which means Simon is going from outside linebacker to defensive end. That’s what he played at Ohio State.
Simon said the changes have inspired a positive outlook.
“I think we’ve got a good chance,” Simon said. “We have a lot of new faces in the building, [they] put together a good OTA, minicamp.
“Obviously, last year didn’t go the way we wanted, but a new scheme, a new coaching staff, new attitude coming into the building. So I think that’s good for us, a little bit of a fresh start.
“Our division [AFC South] is tough, probably the toughest in the NFL right now top to bottom,” Simon said. “We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Simon was the only current NFL player at the golf outing. Among the retirees participating were Howland’s Doug Datish and Warren’s Dan Herron, both former Ohio State players. Warren’s Prescott Burgess (Michigan, Baltimore Ravens) took part as did former Buckeyes A.J. Hawk and Bobby Carpenter.
“Pretty cool,” said Datish, the Howland High School graduate who played center for the Atlanta Falcons (2007) and Tennessee Titans (2008). “Last night, the Ohio State guys played the Michigan guys and Penn State guys.
“We’re all mostly from Warren,” the former Buckeye said. “It’s really neat to be able to sit down and talk and see what everybody is doing. On top of that, we get to help out Inspiring Minds, just a tremendous organization.”
The benefit raised $90,000 for Inspiring Minds, a program helping approximately 50 students with after-school and summer programs. The organization was founded by Warren’s Deryck Toles, who played for Penn State and the Colts before suffering a career-ending injury in 2005.
“We’ve been helping them out since their inception and it’s amazing to see how much they’ve grown,” said Datish, who lives in Warren and owns the Alpine Springs Rehabilitation and Recovery center in Linesville, Pa.
Simon said he tries to take part in as many benefits as time allows,
“As much as you can give back, I think that’s important,” he said. “I don’t get back to Youngstown as much as I’d like to.”
Playing in Indianapolis has made it easier for his family. He and his wife, Brittany, have a 1-year-old son, Enzo.
“It’s a lot easier to get home now,” he said. “It’s better for family to come visit him. Houston was tough — 26-hour drive or at least a three-hour flight and an hour drive from the airport. Indy is a lot easier experience for them.”