DT Sims eager for bigger role in new defense
TAMPA -- Defensive tackle Ryan Sims has started just two games in two seasons with the Bucs, but the former first-round draft pick is preparing for a bigger role this fall as a starter and a team leader.
"They got rid of a lot of our leaders," Sims said after Tuesday's OTA workout. "We went from one of the oldest to one of the youngest teams. ... (So) It's more of leadership, using (seven) years of experience to do things the new coaches like, trying to teach the new guys and the rookies. I like that. It makes you come to work every day, mentally and physically."
Sims had 27 tackles last year and 23 in 2007, his first season with the Bucs, but he's confident that a new defensive scheme is better-suited to his 6-foot-4, 315-pound frame.
"It's more about attacking the man in front of you and using power, where (Monte) Kiffin's defense was mostly speed and quickness," Sims said. "It's a different philosophy. This is a power, stop-them-up-front, stop-the-run defense."
When Sims was traded to the Bucs from Kansas City two years ago, he was surprised by the lack of size on the defensive line, especially inside.
"When I first came here, I was like, 'This has got to be the smallest defensive line I've ever seen in my life,'" Sims said. "I'm the biggest guy, and I"m at 315. When I was at Kansas City, I was considered one of the smallest d-tackles in the AFC."
Sims said the bigger look up front will help the Bucs this fall, as early as Week 1, when the Cowboys and mammoth guard Leonard Davis come to Tampa. "We have to play the NFC East," he said. "In Dallas, they come at you at 370."
Only three teams gave up fewer rushing touchdowns than the Bucs last season, but opponents averaged 4.3 yards per carry, a mark that ranked 21st in the league. Sims, who will rotate with 310-pound rookie Roy Miller and 296-pound veteran Chris Hovan, thinks the run defense will improve under Jim Bates' direction.
"Now in the NFL, run stopping has become so critical in November and December. This is the first defense that the coaches really notice the importance of that and desire it," Sims said. "When you have a lot of sack guys, sometimes it's great. But when you have a lot of small guys, when it's cold and it's third and one, that's football time."
-- Greg Auman, Times staff writer
(photo from the Times' Michael C. Weimar; for more on Sims, check out this Q&A with Times writer Stephen Holder from back in November)