Sep 092010

Eagles LB Ernie Sims

September 9 Philadelphia Inquirer

Ernie Sims isn’t used to losing.

At Florida State, playing for one of college football’s most high-profile teams, he had a winning record every year. His Seminoles teams won 10, nine, eight and seven games in his college years and won two bowl games.

In his first four years in the NFL, with the Detroit Lions, Sims won three, seven, zero and two games. He never played in a Monday Night Football game. He never played in a Sunday Night Football game, facts he is keenly aware of. The most exposure he got was on the Lions’ annual Thanksgiving Day game, when they usually got blown out.

This year, then, is a chance for Sims to start over.

Acquired in an April trade, he joins a team that contends for the playoffs nearly every year and enjoys its fair share of the NFL spotlight.

“What I’m used to, what I’m accustomed to, is winning,” Sims said after one of his first practices with the Eagles. On Wednesday, in anticipation of his first game with a new team, he added, “I’m just excited for a new beginning.”

His is the most obvious fresh start, but not the only one on the Eagles’ linebacker corps.

Stewart Bradley is back after a season lost to injury, with a chance to resume the climb that began in 2008, when he made the Eagles‘ middle linebacker spot his own.

Akeem Jordan, after a 2009 spent bouncing between the weakside and middle linebacking slots, the injured list and second string, enters the year having won yet another starting job, at strong-side linebacker.

The team hopes the reshaped unit can provide the kind of consistency that was impossible with a string of injuries and lineup shifts last season.

“Building that continuity is important,” said defensive coordinator Sean McDermott.

Much of the hoped-for improvement hinges on Bradley, who, from the middle of the defense, is charged with making calls and relaying information between the defensive line, linebackers and secondary.

A tall, fast presence, he is a threat to blitz, has the height to snarl passing lanes and the speed to chase tight ends. He is coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament but appeared strong throughout training camp. If healthy, he has the size and speed to be a defensive weapon.

None of the Eagles’ strong-side linebacker options have pedigrees of stars. Jordan, an undrafted free agent who came from the practice squad in 2007, won the job over Moise Fokou, a seventh-round draft pick last year. Jordan has never started more than 10 games in a season and has one sack and two interceptions in his career.

Asked about Jordan’s talents, McDermott cited the linebackers’ field instincts, and ability to play all three linebacker spots.

Sims, a short and speedy player with a ponytail of dreadlocks and a jutting lower jaw and the word “Blessed” tattooed across his chest, is a wild card. Drafted ninth overall in 2006, he was dealt away by the Lions at a bargain price.

Eagles coaches have touted him as a high-speed, aggressive player, and indeed he made more than 140 tackles a season in his first three years in Detroit. But he also has just 21/2 sacks and one interception in his four-year career.”

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