FOXBORO — About a year ago, uncertainty faced John Simon in a way he had never experienced before.
The defensive end was surprisingly cut by the Indianapolis Colts just before the regular season, sending Simon on a sudden scramble to find a new team. Making it more complicated, his wife Brittany was pregnant and home with their first son as he flew out for a series of tryouts over the span of a few weeks.
Simon packed a suitcase for his tryouts not knowing if he would be coming back home. He called that time period “stressful.”
“It was crazy,” Simon said.
A year later, though, things seem to be a lot less hectic for him.
Simon ultimately signed with the Patriots in late September last season, and his contributions were a somewhat overlooked part of their run to the Super Bowl. He served situationally on the edge and sometimes at linebacker, where he provided physicality in the run game. He played an even larger role in the playoffs, where he produced half a sack in the AFC title game and a tackle for loss in the Super Bowl.
He may not be talked about much but Simon seems to fit the Patriots’ system perfectly. He signed a two-year deal to stay with the Patriots in March and is a good bet to make the 53-man roster, where he figures to provide depth on the edge.
“I’m very comfortable,” Simon said. “I just think we have a lot of like-minded guys who are just here to win games and they’re going to do whatever it takes. Selfless individuals who whatever their role is that week, they’re going to do it to their fullest ability and guys who have trust with one another, so I think that’s the important thing when you go out there, is that you can trust in your teammates and that comes with the chemistry.”
After arriving in September last year, Simon said having a full offseason and preseason with the team has helped as he tries to build that chemistry. And though he signed that two-year deal, he’s not taking anything for granted. He had a tackle and pass deflection in last week’s win over the Detroit Lions, and he knows he needs to continue to prove himself on a loaded defense.
“That comes with the day-to-day grind, putting in good practices day after day,” Simon said. “But it’s a what have you done for me lately business, so you have to continue to do it constantly.”
At the least, he seems a lot less stressed after what he called a “whirlwind” of a year. His second son, Elijah, was born the day after the AFC Championship Game, but he and his family seem to be settled in now. Brittany and their two sons came to Tuesday’s practice, and Simon spent some quality time on the field with them after.
“It was a crazy year. I came in and tried to earn the guys’ respect and still try to every practice here,” Simon said. “But it’s been a blessing, it really has, and everything works its way out. We’re a little more situated here, which is nice, but we’re putting in a good camp so far, getting after it a little bit and we just have to continue to do so.”
The Danny Etling experiment at wide receiver appears to be over.
Etling was waived on Tuesday, a source confirmed to the Herald. The former LSU quarterback, who was drafted in the seventh round by the Patriots last year, was attempting to convert as a receiver with three other quarterbacks on the roster. If he clears waivers, the Patriots could add him to their practice squad.
Etling was waived to make room for new tight end Eric Saubert, who was traded from the Atlanta Falcons on Monday. Saubert was present Tuesday at practice, where he wore a white No. 48 jersey and caught a touchdown from Tom Brady during a non-competitive drill.
The Patriots had a light walkthrough on Tuesday for their final open training camp practice. N’Keal Harry, Yodny Cajuste and Matt LaCosse were absent from the quick session, where the most exciting part came before it began. On the far end of one of the practice fields, rookies took turns in a slip-and-slide drill in which they dove for loose balls while being sprayed by water with a hose, which was controlled by Brady. The fun exercise also included rookie assistant coaches, including Jerod Mayo.
The Pats will now head to Nashville for joint practices with the Tennessee Titans ahead of Saturday night’s preseason game.
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