Ernie Sims doesn't usually smile.
But when the projected weakside linebacker is asked about the prospect of putting the pads on for the first time, Sims laughs and grins from ear to ear.
"I can't wait," Sims said in anticipation of tomorrow's 8:15 a.m. practice that will see the full team hitting for the first time since the season-ending loss to the Cowboys in January. "I'm not going to try to kill my own teammates, at least I'll try not to, but I'll just go play football, that's all I know."
Sims considers himself a thunderous hitter and he's anxious to feel the thud of contact he's accustomed to. But he's also excited about donning the pads because he thinks he has something to prove.
"I have to prove to my coaches, my teammates and my fans in Philly that I'm ... that player, the reason why Detroit drafted me No. 9 (overall in the 2006 NFL draft) ... Once I prove that, they'll know what I'm all about."
This will be a different training camp experience for Sims, who never went away for training camp in his four seasons in Detroit. The Lions practiced on their standard practice field and stayed in hotel rooms. Also, practices weren't open to the fans until Sims' last year in Detroit.
Former Florida State teammate Brodrick Bunkley "has told me a lot about the fans and how they come out and enjoy themselves," Sims said. He added that he's not quite used to being "in the middle of nowhere ... I see big mountains and we're staying in dorms."
But that's the perfect environment for Sims to get adjusted to a new defense. He's expected to be the starting weakside linebacker, but in order to do that, Sims needs to get comfortable in a new defensive scheme and learn an entirely new terminology while erasing his old Lions' nomenclature. So Sims stayed after his very first practice of training camp with his position coach Bill Shuey to work on that transition.
"With me being new to the defense, there are a few things that need to be ironed out," he said. "So I'm asking all the questions I can right now before the first game comes around.
"I think over repetition and me being out here going over plays and in the meeting rooms taking all my notes and everything it's going to help me. And the coaches are doing a great job of trying to fill me in. Even the players are doing a great job of getting me accustomed to the terminology of the defense."
So Sims will go to more meetings tonight and study the playbook before going to sleep - likely with a smile on his face because, after all, this is pads-on eve.
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 6:51 p.m., July 30