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Early On, Simon Drawing From Confidence

The middle linebacker eyed the offensive set before him, and then barked out an adjustment at the line of scrimmage. He signaled to a safety to move closer, in anticipation of a running play.

From a distance, it appeared that Lemar Marshall, the Redskins' starting middle linebacker last season, had the defense well in hand during the OTA practice.

Except that it wasn't Marshall making the call.

It was rookie linebacker Kevin Simon, the Redskins' seventh-round draft choice out of Tennessee, who had stepped in for Marshall.

In the early going of his NFL career, Simon has already established himself as a vocal presence on the practice fields at Redskins Park.

Simon displays unusual confidence for a rookie. He calls out defensive adjustments--as required in Gregg Williams' aggressive schemes--and shouts out words of encouragement to teammates.

It's much too soon in Simon's NFL career to label him a leader, but he certainly displays leadership qualities on the field.

"When I'm out there, I know I have to make all of the calls," Simon said. "What I say goes and you can't be passive about it. You have to be authoritative in everything you're doing. You have to have confidence in the calls that you make. If you have confidence in your calls, then the guys around you are going to have confidence in what you're doing."

Simon has dived head-first into Williams' playbook.

"There's a lot to learn in this system," Simon said. "A lot of it is learning the terminology so that you can make all the calls and get the defense in the best position to make plays.

"That's something you didn't always have to do in college. You usually don't make calls at the line of scrimmage--you might have a check or two, but there are not as many adjustments."

Like all of the Redskins' rookies, Simon is making the transition from college to the pros. At Tennessee, he appeared in 30 games and recorded 237 tackles (139 solo), 5.5 sacks, eight pass deflections and 13.5 tackles for a loss.

In 2004, Simon suffered a knee injury that forced him to miss most of his junior season. He rebounded last year to record 88 tackles (40 solo), one sack and five pass deflections.

Simon is listed at 5-10 and 235 pounds. Entering the 2006 NFL Draft, he was regarded by some draft experts as somewhat undersized in a league where most linebackers are 6-1 or taller in height.

Simon was quick to point out that many undersized linebackers have gone on to successful NFL careers. Two examples: Miami Dolphins' Zach Thomas and St. Louis Rams' Dexter Coakley.

"I don't feel that I'm undersized because there are guys who play at the same size at this level," Simon said. "So it's not even something I'm thinking about."

The Redskins were interested in Simon early on in the draft process. He was among the prospects who visited Redskins Park in mid-April, prior to the draft.

Simon is expected to compete for a roster spot and provide depth at the middle linebacker position, head coach Joe Gibbs said.

In OTAs, Simon is working with linebackers coach Dale Lindsey. He is watching and learning how the veteran linebackers play their position and approach the game.

"You try to pull from everybody," he said. "I'm fortunate to have a great coach in Coach Lindsey and he really is a good teacher. When you have good coaches around you, it always makes the transition easier."

Simon admits that adjusting to the Redskins' defense has been trial by error at times. He is not afraid to make a mistake--as long as he doesn't repeat the mistake.

"The main thing that I'm trying to accomplish every day is daily improvement," he said. "I don't want to make a mistake twice, but the way I look at it is, if you're going to make a mistake, you better do it full speed. Same thing with making the [defensive] calls. If you're going to make the calls, they might not be right sometimes, but you better do it full speed.

"Overall, I feel good about where I'm at, but I still feel like I have a long ways to go."

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