MOBILE, Ala. – John Simon’s stay at the Senior Bowl is being cut short.
Simon wasn’t on the practice field Tuesday with the North team, and Tuesday afternoon a Senior Bowl official confirmed that the former Ohio State star was headed home for an injury-related reason. Per Senior Bowl policy, the injury was not disclosed.
Simon was still at Senior Bowl headquarters Tuesday evening interviewing with NFL scouts — and he was not wearing any type of brace or protective cover on either knee. He said the injury is “some stuff from the season that hasn’t healed up yet. I tried to tough it out but couldn’t. I’m disappointed, but I’ll be OK.”
The Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year played through knee issues for the first 11 games of the 2012 season, then sat out the Michigan game. If you’re familiar with Simon, you know he would have played if there was any way he possibly could have. He said Monday night he was trying to play all the way up until 10 minutes before kickoff.
It’s not likely his exit will be a big deal in the big picture of the 2013 NFL Draft. Simon was going to play linebacker this week in a 4-3 alignment — with no blitzing by linebackers per rules of Saturday’s Senior Bowl game. That’s different than anything he’s ever played, and probably different than the position he’ll eventually play in the NFL.
“I wanted to play linebacker, just come out here and compete,” Simon said. “I didn’t want to have to cut it off, but I’m going home to get well and get back on track.”
Simon is training in Columbus for next month’s NFL Scouting Combine, where he’ll get full medical evaluations from all 32 NFL teams.
On Monday night Simon was emphatic when he said “the knee is healed,” so there’s a possibility the injury is to another part of his body. There’s also a possibility that the knee swelled and Simon decided it wasn’t worth the risk this week.
One NFL scout familiar with Simon said Tuesday: “If you think he’s a 3-4 outside linebacker, you’re drafting him to go up the field, not back. A week playing linebacker would have helped his transition, but it’s not an issue as long as he’s healthy. You draft that guy to rush the passer.”