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Matt Simms returns to Falcons a ‘tougher’ quarterback

Matt Ryan is all smiles as Falcons quarterback Matt Simms prepares to pass before playing the Redskins in an exhibition game Thursday, August 11, 2016, in Atlanta.
Matt Ryan is all smiles as Falcons quarterback Matt Simms prepares to pass before playing the Redskins in an exhibition game Thursday, August 11, 2016, in Atlanta.

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

The past two years of Matt Simms’ football career weren’t short of surprises.

The Falcons cut the quarterback in 2017 after initially adding him to the team's practice squad and signing him to a reserve/future contract in the years prior. He spent 2018 training camp season attending a few workouts and even starting his own business — Simms Complete QB — before signing on with the Alliance of American Football's Atlanta Legends. He injured his finger halfway through its failed season, but it wasn't serious enough to end his career.

When backup quarterback Kurt Benkert went down with a toe injury Thursday against the Denver Broncos, head coach Dan Quinn needed immediate help at the position. The organization called Simms, and the 31-year-old quarterback was back in the fold — with a potential opportunity to play in Thursday's preseason game at Miami.

“It’s hard to explain,” Simms said Monday of getting another chance in the NFL. “A little emotional, just because of how much work you put into it, how much you sacrifice, the discipline of it. I’m really thankful for those opportunities, some moments are brighter than some others, but those tough times definitely made me tougher.”

Simms will work with quarterback Matt Ryan, who he’s been with for two years and Matt Schaub (one year). The familiarity Simms has is a benefit on the field and in the quarterback room. While Ryan explained the culture in the room is set by him and the coaches, it’s the expectation that the other players to fit accordingly. However, with Simms, that hasn’t been an issue.

“Matt fits in really well with us and he’s done a great job in all of the time that he’s been here,” Ryan said.

Simms explained how he was able to keep himself ready when the opportunity would present itself. Working with Simms Complete QB, he was able to coach, which he said kept him sharp. Training typically took place in the Northeast but had no base of operation.

In a short period of time, he had more than 50 quarterbacks, including Indianapolis Colts quarterback Chad Kelly, Baylor’s Charlie Brewer, Princeton’s Kevin Davidson and Eagles rookie Clayton Thorson.

“We’ve been really fortunate with (the) old-school grassroots of doing the right thing, then people will come,” Simms said.

Quarterback Matt Simms rolls out for a pass during Atlanta Legends practice Feb. 22, 2019, at Milton High School in Milton
Quarterback Matt Simms rolls out for a pass during Atlanta Legends practice Feb. 22, 2019, at Milton High School in Milton

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Simms said his time with the AAF was good to get repetitions, even with the nuances of the league compared to the NFL. He had to adjust accordingly, but recognized that he was just glad to get out of it relatively “unscathed.”

Quinn said the team thought of Simms because of his familiarity with the plays and some of the formations. With a shortened package of plays, the head coach said he’d like for Simms to be ready to play against the Dolphins, if needed.

“We thought he would be one that would be up for the challenge,” Quinn said. “He’s responded over the last couple of days in a positive manner.”

Simms praised Ryan, calling him one of the better quarterbacks of this decade and “probably this generation.” He’s excited about the opportunity to work behind him again.

“To be around this room again and just to play ball, it’s awesome,” Simms said. “It’s hard to explain. It’s just whatever you thought you were trying to accomplish as a kid, its just the greatest feeling in the world.”