The second-year player from Michigan State is getting a big opportunity these days with Clay sidelined with a knee injury sustained early in the team scrimmage at Sun Life Stadium last Saturday, and he sure appears to be making the most of it.
Sims was on the receiving end of a touchdown pass and a two-point conversion in the scrimmage and he followed that up this week with some good work in practice while working with the first-team offense.
“It’s definitely an opportunity to make plays when my number is called,” Sims said after practice Wednesday. “We just have to move forward and not miss a beat.”
With Clay sitting out practice all week, Sims likely will get the starting nod Friday night when the Dolphins open their preseason schedule against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome.
The Dolphins entered training camp looking for a clear-cut No. 2 tight end behind Clay, and it seems as though Sims has moved ahead of the competition, which includes 2012 third-round pick
Head Coach Joe Philbin has consistently mentioned Sims during training camp when he’s been asked to name the most improved players in camp, and the reason is simple.
“Consistency,” Philbin said. “I would say he has been a little bit more consistent. I think he’s catching the ball very well. We’ve seen him in the passing game look and play faster. So we’re encouraged by that and I think that’s going to be something that can pay dividends for us this year. But I think that and I think his blocking has gotten more consistent as well.”
All things considered, Sims had a relatively uneventful rookie season after joining the Dolphins as a fourth-round pick in the 2013 draft. On the positive side, Sims had the game-winning catch against Atlanta in the home opener in Week 3 and he also started five games. On the flip side, he ended the season with only six catches for 32 yards.
More than anything, though, Sims gained valuable experience, and it’s that experience Sims says has made him a better player in just about every facet of the game.
“Just knowing what to expect, having that one year of experience and working a lot harder in the offseason, taking care of my body, knowledge and studying is coming better,” Sims said. “I’m starting to recognize fronts and defenses and ways to get open and different techniques, all kind of stuff.”
Sims also tried to learn from some of the best in the business at his position, including Clay, but he plans on doing it more extensively moving forward.
“I watched Clay a lot and some of the stuff that he does is pretty outstanding,” Sims said. “Just watching Clay and Antonio Gates, I watched a little bit of him and Tony Gonzalez as well. That’s something that I will probably start doing, incorporating more into my game.”
For the moment, Sims is simply focused on continuing to make the most of the opportunity he’s gotten in Clay’s absence.
For the preseason opener, Sims’ goals are simple.
“I think it’s just playing fast, being decisive and quick,” he said. “Making quick decisions, trusting myself that I’ll make the right decision and just playing fast.”