INDIANAPOLIS — Under new defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, the Indianapolis Colts are switching to a 4-3 base defense from their old hybrid 3-4.
In doing so, many assumed former outside linebacker John Simon would make the transition to off-ball linebacker.
But that will not be the case.
Back in April, general manager Chris Ballard was asked about how Simon fit into the new defense, and he had a direct answer.
"We're going to play him at right end," Ballard said. "Really at the end of the day, even in the 3-4, you're still in a four-man front.
"It's the difference of putting your hand in the ground or standing up. And John Simon played in the 4-3 at Ohio State so he's done it before. Great effort, he's strong. He'll fit in."
As Ballard mentioned, Simon has played 4-3 defensive end before, albeit in college. The primary concern some outsiders have mentioned, however, is his size (6-2, 260). The weight is fine, but Simon is roughly an inch or two shorter than what 4-3 defensive end "standards" might be.
For a player like Simon, his strength, motor and ability to get low to create leverage can benefit him despite his ideal size for the position.
In fact, Simon isn't concerned about the transition, mentioning during mandatory minicamp that he's already used to the different stance again:
"It's good. Getting used to that three-point stance again," he said. "It took about a week or two to get used to, but I think the transition is going smooth. I've been making a lot of strides and feel good in it."
Eberflus has seen some positives from Simon this offseason as well. The new defensive play-caller explained why Simon's size may not be an issue, saying, "What you have to do is use your attributes."
"Your quickness, your strike, your get-off and all those types of things and keep working that position," Eberflus said. "He will figure it out as we go and as all the players will."
Eberflus also gave an example of a player in which he's coached in the past — Anthony Spencer — who was in Simon's shoes, and it worked out fine in his transition with the Dallas Cowboys.
"He (Simon) has been working hard. I had that situation before with a couple players. Anthony Spencer, a guy from Bishop Luers right up the street here, comes to mind. He made that switch (when) I was coaching him. (He was) an outside backer in a 3-4 and then he went to defensive end," Eberflus said. "He made the transition fine."
Whether it's standing up or in a three-point stance, Simon showed last year when healthy that he knows how to make plays. That is just as much mental processing as it is where you start a play.
Keep an eye on Simon and his ability to sniff out where the ball is going as training camp practices start on July 26.