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INDIANAPOLIS – When the Colts practiced during the spring, they would often split up with starters on one field and reserves on the other.

Veteran John Simon was on the other field, looking like a defensive end hovering around No. 4 or 5 on the depth chart.

In shorts and helmets during the spring, Simon wasn’t running with the starting unit, as he transitioned from a 3-4 outside linebacker to a 4-3 defensive end.

But things have changed quite a bit during Training Camp.

Simon is nearing a starting role, thriving with the full pads on.

“It’s just very evident to me that he brings a couple things,” head coach Frank Reich says of the five-year defensive end. “He brings toughness. He brings savvy.

“It’s like the more intense things get, the better he gets. When we go live periods, when things really ramp up, when we play the preseason game he just seems to get better and better. He’s a smart, savvy, tough vet. It’s hard to put a price on that.”

Reich was very pleased with how Simon looked at Grand Park.

That has continued into the preseason with Simon recording a sack on Monday via a strong bull rush push into Joe Flacco.

“The pads get on and you have to finish plays. That’s what I have seen from (Simon),” Reich says.

“When you’re in OTAs and you don’t have the pads on there is touching off and there’s running by the quarterback. I think what you’ve seen with John in practice and in the preseason is that he just knows how to finish. That’s important. So, good for him.”

After starting 9 games as an outside linebacker in 2017, Simon is looking like at least an early-down option for the Colts in this new 4-3 defense.

Simon knows that once the pads come on, his game ramps up a notch.

“I think pads definitely help me,” the 6-2, 260-pound Simon says.

With the likes of Tarell Basham and Kemoko Turay yet to prove their draft position, it’s Simon who could very well be opposite Jabaal Sheard come Week One. While the Colts continue to use Margus Hunt as a starter, it’s hard to ignore the continued production from Simon.

“John continues to be right at the forefront of that battle,” Reich said on Tuesday. “He’s been productive, a tough player, the kind of player that we like.

“He has all the characteristics of a Colt and I’m very happy with his play and his production.”