Last season was a unique one for fifth-year safety
He had just completed his third preseason with the Buffalo Bills, closing things out against the Detroit Lions. One day later, he found out he had been traded to the team he had just competed against.
“I had to catch up on the defense – that took a bit because it was a lot,” said Simpson. “So it took a bit to get that going, but once I got out there, I felt like I was doing alright. I probably could have done better, but I did good for the most part.”
He played in eight games with five starts, coming away with his third-career interception in Detroit’s win over the Washington Redskins.
It seemed the Lions had found some consistency at the safety position with Simpson and then-rookie
“It shortened my season, but I’ve just got to build on it,” he said. “Hope for the best and come back this year and have a good season.”
Simpson is still a young player, entering just his fifth NFL season, and the hope is that he will continue to grow with the other players around him.
Whether or not he regains a starting spot will depend on his health and pure competition, and there will be plenty of it.
“I feel like we’ve got a lot of guys who have an opportunity for some positions and some jobs,” said Simpson. “Everybody’s hungry. We’re all fighting together, pulling together, trying to get this thing right back there.”
For now, Simpson isn’t even focused on winning a starting spot. His football-specific goals are taking a backseat to his ultimate goal of getting healthy and back on the field.
“My main goal is just to do whatever I can to help this team, just try to get back as quick as I can and get on the field,” he said. “That’s my main goal right now: just get healthy. Obviously I have some football goals, but right now I’m just trying to get healthy.”
THE REHAB PROCESS
Simpson has been taking things day-by-day in regards to his rehab.
He has been able to condition with the team, though he hasn’t been able to participate in any OTA or camp drills.
“Right now I’m basically just trying to build up my quad,” he said. “That’s the main thing because, once you have surgery, all your muscles just go. So I’m trying to build up my muscles right now.”
Simpson had surgery during the 2009 regular season, undergoing a procedure to rebuild the cartilage in his knee.
He has had to be patient throughout the process as his body has healed, but he had experience with an extensive rehab process when he suffered a fibula injury in 2007.
“I know how the rehab process goes,” he said. “You have to be patient, you’re going to have your ups and downs.
“Looking back, I realized I couldn’t do anything, but I bounced back. This isn’t anything to me – I’ve been in this position before, so I’m just getting better every day.”
HOPING FOR CAMP
Simpson is hoping he will be able to compete during training camp and the preseason, but also knows he can’t bank on anything.
He is living by the mantra of Head Coach Jim Schwartz and taking things one day at a time.
“Everybody’s working,” he said of himself and the secondary. “We go out to eat together, so everybody is bonding and we’re just trying to get better every day as a group.”
On whether that dynamic may change once the competition heats up during camp, Simpson says it’s unlikely.
“It’s still just football,” he said. “It picks up a little bit – the competition gets a little deeper – but it makes us play much better with the talent and fighting for a job. At the end of the day, it brings out the best in everybody.”