Ryan's Hope

He's back. Defensive end Ryan Sims could get some snaps against the Denver Broncos on Sunday afternoon. After missing basically the entire season, with a Lis Franc foot injury, the 6'4" 315 pound North Carolina alum is healthy and eager to get back on the field and contribute to a steadily improving Kansas City Chiefs defensive team.

Before his injury, Sims had exceeded the coaches' expectations, putting together a strong training camp and preseason. Sims injured his foot in the first game of the season against the New York Jets, and the Chiefs have struggled rushing opposing quarterbacks. Sims returns to the field with a renewed passion for the game, impatiently waiting for the opportunity to help the team.

A healthy, rested Sims will go a long way towards helping a defense that has logged only 20 sacks so far the season. Sims also understands that not much will be expected out of him and anything he can give to his teammates will be a bonus.

Still with this type of injury Sims has beaten the odds and he's anxious to get some reps in a live game.

"Everything's doing good, foot felt great, I'm just ready to get back," Sims told a throng of media gathered around his locker after practice today.

Although Sims' return is timely, the Chiefs won't be rushing him back to the field. The team has been bringing Sims along slowly, and will probably limit him in Sunday's must win game against the Denver Broncos to a dozen or more snaps. Still the Chiefs are going to need Sims' speed and explosiveness against the Broncos vaunted running game this weekend.

"I thought last week I was ready, Sims said. "But the coaches held me out a week."

But the ultimate decision will come from Head Coach Dick Vermeil. But after Wednesday's practice, he seemed ready to hold out hope that his mammoth defensive lineman could return soon. But he wants to be sure that he's physically ready and that means more practice time.

"Ryan Sims looked good (today). We kept him out of our normal practice and worked him with pads," Vermeil said. "He did some hard work with two young offensive linemen and he looked good. He'll do the same again tomorrow and then we'll make a decision probably on Saturday whether he'll be active on Sunday."

Since his injury, Sims has been working hard to get back on the field. Usually when dealing with a foot injury to a big man like a defensive tackle, it takes a long while to get back on the field, but Sims has exceeded expectations. After today's practice, a delighted Sims gushed about his first turn in a full practice since September.

"It feels good, Sims said. "I haven't hit anyone in a while, so it feels good to go out there and put my helmet on some guys."

Vermeil admitted that Sims is eager to get back on the football field.

"I was impressed. Boy, does he want to play, so bad he can taste it. So, sometimes when they're like that the passion to play covers up a little pain. I didn't see him favoring the foot in any way and it's a tribute to the effort he's made and our medical staff and trainers to get him this far along with that kind of injury. I'm optimistic, Vermeil said.

Sims enthusiasm has already started to catch on in the locker room. Other players have taken notice of his attitude on the practice field.

"Ryan Sims is ready to play," said linebacker Derrick Johnson. "He's very energetic; he looks like he's in high school again."
If Sims can stay healthy for the rest of the season and be a productive part of the defensive rotation, it would go along way in guaranteeing the Chiefs a playoff spot. If Sims can dominate like he has the potential to do, it could seal the deal and ensure that the Chiefs could make lots of noise in the playoffs.

But Sims knows even if he plays this weekend that he has to prove his worth on the field because the defense has played so well the last couple of weeks.

"It's different watching these guys than playing with them. I hope I can just help these guys," Sims said.

If he can, Sims could add some much needed depth along the defensive line and that could spell trouble for opposing offenses down the stretch.

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