Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hefty Upside to Simon; Colts Hope for a Quick End to Defensive Troubles with Signing of Eagles Castoff

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hefty Upside to Simon; Colts Hope for a Quick End to Defensive Troubles with Signing of Eagles Castoff

Article excerpt

Byline: BART HUBBUCH

Even Corey Simon admits the cameras didn't lie Sunday night.

When ESPN lingered on the Indianapolis Colts' newest defensive tackle, viewers must have been shocked to see how much weight Simon had put on during his lengthy contract dispute with the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason.

Simon is listed at 293 pounds, but he appeared at least 50 pounds heavier than that during his Colts debut against the Baltimore Ravens. The former Florida State standout was so big that -- no joke -- one of his jersey numbers fell off during the game from being stretched too thin.

"I'm not where I want to be," Simon said this week. "But I'm playing my way into football shape, and I'll be fine."

If or when that happens, the Colts expect Simon's impact on their defense to be as big as his body looked during their 24-7 victory over the Ravens in the season opener.

The Jaguars will gauge that for themselves Sunday when they face Simon and the Colts in an AFC South showdown at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. Judging from the opener, Simon's presence inside will do wonders for a defense that has been the Colts' undoing in recent years.

"He makes their defense a whole lot better," Jaguars running back Fred Taylor said. "Just him being there is going to free up their other guys to do a lot of damage."

That was evident against Baltimore, even though Simon's lack of proper conditioning limited him to 30 plays. The Colts' defense, which ranked 29th in the NFL last year, harried the Ravens' quarterbacks and ended up just 13 seconds from a shutout.

Simon was credited with just one quarterback pressure and no tackles, but the Colts had three sacks and limited Pro Bowl running back Jamal Lewis to just 48 yards on 16 carries.

That's precisely what the Colts had in mind when they outbid several other teams for Simon's services after the Eagles unexpectedly lifted the franchise tag on the 2003 Pro Bowl selection just before the season opener.

"Corey's going to be good for us," Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy said. "He played in this type of [attacking defensive] system at Florida State and really excelled, and we hope he'll do the same here. …

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