Ernie Sims sees starting job in his grasp

OXNARD, Calif. – Ernie Sims arrived at training camp with a modest goal: Make the team.

Sims started thinking much bigger after making a bunch of plays in the early part of camp. He’s shooting for the starting job at strongside linebacker now.

Sims, an eight-year veteran who signed with the Cowboys when Sean Lee went on injured reserve last season, has made it a legitimate competition with free-agent addition Justin Durant. Sims played a series with Lee and Bruce Carter in the Oakland game and was getting first-team reps when he strained his groin during Monday’s practice.

“It’s kind of unfortunate that I tweaked my groin, but you can bet your last dollar that when I get back out here I’m going to keep fighting,” said Sims, who isn’t expected to play this weekend in Arizona.

“I can see it in my grasp. I think it’s reachable. The coaches are giving me a lot of praise. 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 on the field.”

The Cowboys aren’t discouraged about Durant, a productive starter in Jacksonville and Detroit before coming to Dallas. They just like what they’ve seen from Sims, a former first-round pick for the Lions who has extensive experience in this scheme.

"He comes to work every day and he has ability,” coach Jason Garrett said. “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."