Ernie Sims instigated a fight with Lance Dunbar in practice Tuesday, but Sims was making his presence felt before then. He is making a case to be the starting strongside linebacker in the Cowboys' 4-3 scheme.
"My goal is to make the team," Sims said. "That’s my goal. Then, once I’ve made the team…. You know what? I take that back. My goal is to come out here and compete every day. Whatever they decide to do with me, that’s what they do with me, whether that’s special teams, starting, second team. I just come out here and just be my best every day and get better every day, compete every day and make plays and try to help this team. Whatever fate they have for me, that’s in their hands."
Sims was the ninth overall pick of the Lions in 2006 out of Florida State. He started 50 consecutive games before injuries forced him out of the Lions' lineup in 2009. Detroit traded him to Philadelphia in a three-way deal for tight end Tony Scheffler and a seventh-round pick. He had only 2.5 sacks and an interception in 56 career starts for the Lions.
He went from Philadelphia to Indianapolis and was out of football, sitting at home, ready to do something else last October when the Cowboys called. They needed a veteran linebacker with Sean Lee out for the season.
"I think the thing I really noticed was, really from the first conversation he and I had, was just that: This is my last chance," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "He had that mindset. Often times you see that with college free agents who understand they have one shot, and their mindset is I am going to make everything out of this opportunity I have in front of me each and every day. And I think Ernie has done that. He has really played well. He’s played well on defense, he’s played well on special teams and he’s played with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder. And that’s a really good thing."
Sims played in 10 games with the Cowboys, with six starts last season, despite having had no prior experience in the 3-4. He made 42 tackles and had one sack, two pressures and three pass breakups. Dallas re-signed him when they switched to the 3-4 to the 4-3 during the offseason.
Sims has been a perfect fit, competing with Justin Durant for the strongside spot while backing up Bruce Carter at the weakside position. Sims also can play the middle linebacker spot, and he plays special teams.
"I’m making plays," Sims said of his camp performance thus far. "That’s the name of the game is to make plays, make a difference. When I see myself on film, and I’m making tackles, making pass defense or whatever, I feel comfortable about that. I think my peers and the coaches, they see the same thing."
-- Charean Williams