IRVING, Texas –For the second straight week, linebacker Ernie Sims is preparing himself to play. Only this week, he's hoping to contribute much more when his team faces the Redskins on Sunday.
Sims received a concussion early in the Cowboys' victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 16. The following week he went through the typical protocol for concussions leading up to last Sunday's game with the Saints. He passed all the tests and felt confident the injury was behind him.
But in the first quarter, the linebacker took himself out of the game citing dizziness. On Wednesday, Sims explained how quickly he started feeling the symptoms take their toll.
"The first play," Sims said. "I really just tried to play through it…It started getting worse. I really hated to put my team in that situation where a player has to come in who didn't get a lot of reps or whatnot, but I told the trainer 'something's not right.' Thank God nothing happened that was worse."
On Wednesday, the Cowboys practiced in preparation for their crucial matchup with the Washington Redskins and Sims was suited up and ready to go.
"I did everything today," Sims said. "I feel just like I did last week. It's just that when I got into some contact (in the game) I started feeling symptoms."
The only option the Cowboys have is to take a similar plan as they used last week, perhaps adding more contract tests to determine if the same issues will arise.
"We'll see how it goes this week," Sims said. "I'm going to keep doing all the tests that they ask me to do. Later in the week we'll try to incorporate me into some (contact) drills and we'll see if I can pass those as well and see where it goes from there."
The fact that Sims feels fine would normally be a very positive sign, but given how last week played out, he will have to come to terms with the fact that he will probably not know exactly how healthy he is until the time comes for him to suit up.
"It's real frustrating," Sims said. "It's not like an injury to your arm or leg or whatever. It's your brain so you just have to wait. For me, it's real frustrating because I want to be on the field."
In all likelihood, Sims will literally be a game-time decision.
"Probably before the football game I'm going to go out on the field and see how I do (with some contact) and make a decision before the game.
Sims is in a unique and difficult position. He was signed by the Cowboys in the middle of the season to help provide depth at linebacker. As they have sustained more injures, Dallas has relied on him as a starter and he has exceeded expectations, by recording a high number of tackles and helping out with the play calling. He has taken advantage of his opportunities and may have provided a spark to his career. He was without a team for the first month of the season.
Combine all this with the fact that the Cowboys need to beat the Redskins to make the playoffs and Sims likely feels a certain level of pressure to play.
"I don't want to let my teammates down," Sims said. "My teammates keep telling me I don't want to let my family down, my wife. I want to be able to live (functionally) for the rest of my life. It's tough because I love playing football."