Ernie Sims was out of the league two weeks ago. This week, he will start for the Cowboys against the NFL's last undefeated team.
"I was kind of baffled that I wasn’t on an NFL team from the get-go, but now that I’m on a team, I did whatever I could to get back on the field and help my team," Sims said Friday. "The coaches were impressed with what I did last week, and they decided to give me a start this week. Just like I did last week, I’m going to out there and do my job and try to help this team out as much as possible. I’m excited being a part of the Dallas Cowboys, being back in the NFL and seeing Sims on the back on my jersey is just a blessing. I’m excited. I can’t wait."
Dan Connor became the starter last week, replacing Sean Lee after Lee went on injured reserve with a foot injury. Connor, though, injured his neck after only 10 plays last week against the Giants. Connor will miss this week's game, though he said Friday he is getting stronger and hopes to play next week.
That leaves Sims, Orie Lemon and Alex Albright at inside linebacker, along with starter Bruce Carter. Lemon was activated from the practice squad on Sept. 22, while Albright has practiced outside as well as inside. Albright has played 14 defensive snaps this season.
"Ernie’s going to play a ton this week, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts the game," defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said. "We’ve got some good guys there, Alex Albright, Orie Lemon, so they’ll all play, and we’re looking forward to it. Matt Erberflus, as we all know, is the best linebacker coach in football. He’s just proven it time and time again. We lost our great player, Sean Lee, but we’re still playing games, and we’re going to keep playing well."
Sims signed five days before he played 10 snaps in the sub-packages against the Giants. He has never played in the 3-4 previously.
"The great thing is he doesn’t have to know everything," Ryan said. "He just needs to know everything on the game plan. So we’ve taught that a lot to him. Ernie’s really smart, so not only is he really tough, he’s really smart. Now, he’s not really tall, but he’s got everything else going for him. I love this guy. He’s been what we thought he was. He’s tough; he’s smart; he loves football; looks like he really likes his new teammates. I expect being things out of Ernie. I think he’s going to play great."
-- Charean Williams