Ernie Sims' expectations for training camp have changed. He came to California more than three weeks ago hoping to make the team. Now, he's trying to win the starting job.
"I can see it in my grasp," Sims said Tuesday. "I think it’s reachable. Coaches are giving me a lot of praise and they were before I tweaked my groin, they were working me into the starting position. I’m excited about that and I’m just eager to get back on the field."
Sims was working with the first team when he injured his groin in Sunday's practice. He could miss the rest of training camp, though an MRI didn't reveal anything major.
"Right now, we’re going day to day," Sims said. "It feels better than it did yesterday, so we’re just taking it day by day."
Sims, who played in a similar defense when he first came into the league as a first-round pick of the Lions in 2006, is competing with Justin Durant for the starting strongside linebacker job. Durant was signed as a free agent in the off-season after spending the past two seasons with the Lions.
"He made a lot of plays in OTAs and minicamp, and he’s carried that into training camp, and you see it in the preseason games," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "He’s running from side to side, around the football a lot. He’s making a lot of plays. I think more than anything else, I think what impresses me most is his demeanor, his approach, his attitude, and I think it reflects in how he’s playing, how productive he’s been."
The Cowboys signed Sims on Oct. 24, the day they placed Sean Lee on injured reserve. Sims had never played in a 3-4 defense but he ended up playing in 10 games, with six starts and made 42 tackles, a sack and three pass breakups.
"Ever since we saw Ernie in the middle of last season when we signed him, you can tell he has the right mindset and the right approach, a real pro’s pro and it’s important to him," Garrett said. "He comes to work every day and he has ability. He can run. He can make plays on defense. He’s played in this scheme before and he’s very comfortable in it. So we thought he was a real contributor to our football team last year when we had so many injuries to come in and play such a significant role and he just continued that in the offseason, embracing the new system, something he’s played in and you can see that."
-- Charean Williams