IRVING, Texas – Whatever the Cowboys' coaching staff is planning for Denver, Ernie Sims said he's preparing for the Broncos as a starter at linebacker.
"Right now the coaches got me, they got me starting right now, so we'll see how long that goes," he said. "Right now I'm just going to go ahead and keep doing what I've got to do and play football."
Sims entered last week's loss to San Diego, primarily as a nickel linebacker, after starter Bruce Carter surrendered two receiving touchdowns to Chargers running back Danny Woodhead. Sims, who signed with the team during the 2012 season, said he was happy with his performance given the circumstances.
"I felt like I did decent. I definitely did an average job of filling in -- not getting many reps during the week -- and doing a good job taking a lot of notes and preparing mentally – mentally preparing myself – when I was not getting physical reps or whatnot. So I think I did pretty decent," he said.
Sims said he is currently practicing as the starter in both the Cowboys' base and nickel formations. It remains to be seen how that will play out as the week continues.
"We're still looking," said defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. "Bruce is still playing and stuff like that. We're going to need everybody."
Cowboys coaches, including Jason Garrett and Kiffin, were adamant that Carter was not benched for his poor play in San Diego. But with the Broncos sure to feature plenty of three and four receiver formations, it appears Sims has a chance for plenty of playing time.
"We just know who their guys are – Welker, Decker – and we've got to shut those guys down," Sims said. "We've got to eliminate the deep plays and move on from there." [embedded_ad]
If Sims were to start, it would be his first starting action since he filled in when Sean Lee was injured in October of last season. The veteran started 56 games for Detroit from 2006-09, and he made another 25 starts between 2010-12 for the Eagles, Colts and Cowboys.
"The good thing is I've been a starter for years, so I know how it feels to be starting and being the No. 1 guy and everything," he said. "So I'm just going to approach it like I did back in the day, as a starter – preparing myself and getting ready to play balls out."
It seemed Sims had a chance to take a starting spot during training camp this past summer, before a groin injury sidelined him. He re-aggravated the same problem following the season opener, forcing him to miss two games before entering for Carter against the Chargers.
"Ernie has been a good player for us. Even with that injury he had in camp, he's done really well. I think he's the earned any playing time he gets," Lee said. "I don't know how it's going to shake out, but I think Ernie can help us when he's out there."
Regardless of what happens, Sims said he has talked to Carter about the situation. He said the most important thing for the third-year linebacker is to continue working.
"I talked to him – me and Bruce got a really good relationship. I talked to him, I said 'Hey look. Some days, you're going to have games like that. It's all about what you do moving forward,'" Sims said. "He's got to put all that behind him, get better and move forward. That's what he's got to do."