Ernie Sims: 'I can make plays in this league'

IRVING, Texas -- Ernie Sims understands he’s being asked to fill some big shoes at middle linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys while Sean Lee recovers from a strained hamstring.

Sims acknowledged that there’s pressure that comes along with replacing a player who is in the midst of a Pro Bowl-caliber season. But Sims, a former first-round pick who was unemployed midway through last season and considered a bubble player entering training camp, sees this as an opportunity to prove his value.

“I can play in this league,” Sims said. “I’m a starter in this league. I’ve been doing it for a long time. I can make plays in this league. That’s what I want to prove.”

Sims, an eight-year veteran, has seen significant playing time at outside linebacker this season. He has 29 tackles and one forced fumble, but ProFootballFocus.com grades him 32nd among 35 4-3 outside linebackers who have played at least 25 percent of their team’s snaps this season.

Now Sims moves to middle linebacker, a spot he said he has played only a little as an injury fill-in one season in Detroit and then again after Lee’s injury in last week’s blowout loss to the New Orleans Saints.

The 6-foot, 233-pound Sims considers his biggest challenge this week to be learning the correct keys and alignments for the middle linebacker, which are different than the outside linebackers’. He has spent extra time studying this week, including sessions with Lee and assistant coaches.

Sims hopes to be comfortable enough by Sunday to just let his instincts take over against the New York Giants.

“It’s a real big moment,” Sims said. “A lot of eyes are on me to see how I’m going to approach the situation. I know one thing, I’m not afraid. I’m not afraid. I’m stepping up to the plate.”