Simon's Eager to Get Back on the Field
...With Simon's big body in the mix this season, the Colts have allowed an average of 110.1 rushing yards per game, 16th in the NFL. And while that may not sound all that impressive, put it in the perspective that they were only 9 yards per game away from breaking into the top ten in the league. Last year they were yielding 127.3 per game, ninth worst in the NFL.
Simon began some light drills early this week and got a full practice under his belt on Wednesday. Unless he suffers a setback, he'll be in the lineup against the Steelers, but he doesn't want the excitement of playing for the first time in a month to cause him to lose focus.
"You have to be professional about it," he said. "I am just looking forward to getting out on the field. I don't want to be so over-hyped that I don't do what I am supposed to do."
But his teammates have noticed a difference and see the hunger that he's going to bring to this game.
"I feel 100 percent," he said. "It has been a month since I have hit anyone. My teammates are ragging me about my aggressiveness in practice."
Simon's not the only Colt who has missed some playing time. Media pundits are wondering if the bye week, coupled with the Colts resting their starters for most of the last two games will cause them to be rusty against the Steelers, thwarting their chances for a successful Super Bowl run.
But the big defensive tackle has been in this situation before with the Eagles. And he doesn't think it will be detrimental to the Colts' success.
"The leadership on this team, from Coach Dungy on down, will help tremendously," Simon explained. "When coach gave us that time off, he understood what he has here.
"I was in a similar situation last year in Philadelphia where Andy Reid knew exactly what he had. The guys are going to be able to handle that. They will go out there and work hard. Everyone will be excited playing in front of a home crowd. I don't think we will start slow."
And Simon is confident that the Colts are ready to take the next step this year and stake their claim to the Lombardi Trophy in a few weeks.
"For the first time this season we are healthy," he said. "I think this team is poised to make a big run. It is playoff football. There is nothing like it.
"As an old friend of mine used to say, ‘The whole neighborhood will be watching.' We are going to get out there and have a good time with it."
Over the past few seasons, the Colts had to navigate their way through the playoffs at visiting stadiums, living out of suitcases. This year, they get to defend their home turf. And they won't have to deal with noisy crowds trying to disrupt their communications. The 12th man will be helping them this time around. And Simon claims that support helps the Colts immensely.
"When this team plays at home and all of that electricity in the crowd starts humming, we step it up to another level," he said. "We are blessed to have opportunity to play in front of the home crowd."
There is bound to be even more "electricity" in that crowd on Sunday than there was when the Steelers last came to town back in November. Because this time, the outcome is final. There's no next week or next time this season for one of these two teams. Win, and you're in the AFC Championship game next week. Lose, and you'll be watching it on television instead. There's no bigger motivation for the players either.
"That's it," Simon said. "You play the game to win championships. These guys have been in the playoffs. They understand this atmosphere. They are going to do just fine. For me, the motivation is the ring."
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