NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Corey Simon stood sweating in the sun Tuesday after his first workout with the Tennessee Titans, insisting he loves football and that his motivation never dipped.
Saying it is one thing. Now the defensive tackle must prove he can jump start his career after not playing in 2006.
"Oh gosh, it feels great," Simon said. "A little rusty, but I felt good just getting out and running around and being with the guys. That's what you miss most when you're away from the game. You miss the camaraderie in the locker room, and so it's great to get back out here."
The Titans are gambling a one-year contract the six-foot-two Simon can be the run-stopping tackle they saw during his first six seasons in the NFL. Financial terms were not available.
To clear roster space for Simon, the Titans cut rookie kicker John Vaughn.
Taken with the sixth pick overall in 2000 by the Philadelphia Eagles, Simon spent five seasons there, becoming a free agent when the Eagles removed the franchise tag before the 2005 season.
In September 2005 he signed a five-year, $30 million contract with the Indianapolis Colts, and collected $14 million for 13 games played that season.
After sending the first four games of 2006 deactivated, the Colts placed him on the non-football injury/illness list with an undisclosed ailment. The Colts finally released him Aug. 4 after he failed a physical.
Career numbers show Simon with 311 tackles, 32 sacks, seven forced fumbles and three fumbles recovered in 91 career games.
"Every once in a while in the league there are some unique things that happen," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. "This happens to be a case we were able to take advantage of."
The Titans are hoping Simon can help a run defense that gave up 144.6 yards per game in 2006, 30th in the NFL. With Simon in the lineup, the Colts ranked 16th against the run in 2005 and last without him in 2006.
Tennessee defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth didn't sound so certain the Titans really need Simon, a Pro Bowler in 2003. He called Simon a great run stopper but thinks it will be tough for after missing a season.
Haynesworth knows what he's talking about. He sat out six weeks last season, suspended for stepping on the face of Dallas centre Andre Gurode. He said the game felt different when he returned.
"Missing a year and a half, it's almost like starting over. I'm not saying he's no rookie or anything. It's going to be a different level, a different game. Hopefully he can catch up in what, 12 days?" Haynesworth said of the Titans' season opener Sept. 9 at Jacksonville.
Simon had arthroscopic knee surgery last year. What caused him to be placed on the non-football injury/illness list was never disclosed. Even his Colts teammates didn't know what caused the season-ending move.
"We did miss him though," said Colts teammate Nick Harper, who spent the past two seasons with Simon in Indianapolis.
Listed at 320 pounds, Simon would only say he was close to that weight.
Harper said Simon is a professional who looks like he's in good shape. The cornerback said opponents will have to prepare differently for a line featuring Simon and Haynesworth.
"He's going to be one of those guys you can really rely on," Harper said.