NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Less BBQ, and fewer mistakes.
Will a combination of the two – along with solid play – help Titans cornerback LeShaun Sims land a bigger role in his second NFL season?
So far, Titans coach Mike Mularkey has liked what he’s seen.
“He’s been good,” Mularkey said of Sims. “He’s doing fine. LeShaun is very quiet — he doesn’t say a whole lot. But he comes to work every day, and he is all business when he is on the field. I think you can tell it’s his second year. He is a better player this year than he was this time last year.”
A fifth-round pick out of Southern Utah in the 2016 NFL Draft, Sims played in 13 games for the Titans in 2016, with two starts.
Sims saw his playing time increase at the end of last season, after the team parted ways with veteran cornerback Perrish Cox. After struggling late in a game against the Bears in late November, Sims settled down in the final month of the season. Pro Football Focus listed Sims as the team’s highest graded player against Kansas City on December 18. Sims intercepted Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith in the end zone in that contest.In the final five games of last year, Sims tallied 16 tackles and six passes defensed. He played primarily on special teams at the start of the season, and was inactive the first three games of the season.
“He is one of our promising young players,’’ Titans defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said of Sims at the end of the season. “I think he has a bright future ahead of him.”
Sims said he learned a lot from his rookie season, when he watched those around him, and listened.
“You just have to relax, play ball, and get the (defensive) call,” Sims said. “You can’t overthink everything.
“I feel like once I got settled down I started to play some solid, decent ball. Now, I just have to build on that.”
Sims has some new company around him this offseason. The team signed veteran cornerback Logan Ryan, and drafted former USC cornerback Adoree’ Jackson in the first round. At safety, the team signed former Jaguars safety Johnathan Cyprien.
“The guys have been cool,” Sims said. “We’re competing, and working together.”
To put himself in a better position to be successful, Sims said he changed his diet, and has focused on eating better. His plan is to stick to a meal-prep, nutrition plan.
“Not as much fast food, I guess,” he said with a smile. “They have some good barbeque out here. But I don’t eat nearly as much now as I used to.”
With a year under his belt, Sims plans to contend for a significant role in the defense this fall.
He likes his position, and coaches say he’s a contender because of his size, speed and work ethic.
“Just having more time in the offseason and being able to prepare, it has helped me a lot,” Sims said. “I’ve spent a lot more time in the playbook, and I think that has helped and kept me from having a lot fewer mental mistakes. I just have to keep getting in the playbook.
“This year, I just want to come (into training camp), still the same mindset as last year. But I definitely want a bigger role. I just want to come in, let the coaches see I understand the defense more, and do what I can to help the team, on defense and on special teams. That’s the biggest thing for me right now.”