John Simon had been quiet in training camp and the preseason.
The rookie outside linebacker out of Ohio State has mostly worked with the second-and-third team defense, and his contributions have been limited.
But in Thursday's victory over the Atlanta Falcons, the outside linebacker showed some flashes of potential as a pass-rushing threat. Simon registered his first sack of the preseason, bringing down quarterback Sean Renfree for a 6-yard loss.
"I think I did that pretty well today," Simon said. "I definitely still have a lot to work on, but it was an improvement."
Simon finished the game with two tackles and the only Ravens' sack of the night.
The sack came early in the fourth quarter, with Simon lined up across from the right tackle. Simon tried to speed rush the tackle to the outside, but he got walled off. He then spun back toward the inside of the field, ran by the tackle and brought down the quarterback.
"I definitely used the spin a little with the Buckeyes," the Ohio State product said. "But our coach here preaches counter moves at the top of the pocket, and I was getting pushed up the pocket a little bit, so I came back inside. You got to listen to your coach and it pays off."
Simon nearly had a sack earlier in the game by chasing quarterback Dominique Davis outside the pocket, but Davis got rid of the ball just in time.
This training camp has been a process of transition for Simon, who has made the move from the 4-3 defensive end spot he played in college to a 3-4 outside linebacker for the Ravens. In addition to changing schemes, now he's playing more of a strong side outside linebacker role where he has to set the edge against the run, compared to a pass-rushing focus in college.
He told reporters after the game that he's getting more comfortable and has started to get a better grasp on the defense.
"It's just getting a feel for how things are and getting a feel for the playbook and just calming your mind down and slowing the game down," Simon said.
This preseason is critical for Simon, as he will likely get limited reps on defense once the regular season starts. With Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Courtney Upshaw and Pernell McPhee in front of him, Simon is trying to crack the lineup at arguably the most talented position on the roster.
"We got the best outside backers in the league, and to come in every day and compete against those guys only makes you better," he said. "I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."