It didn't take long for Lions' rookie linebacker Ernie Sims to live up to his aggressive, sometimes over-the-top reputation during the team's Sunday morning camp session.
The recently signed, ninth overall pick demonstrated his method of saying 'hello' during his first hitting drill. In a 7-on-7 scrimmage, Sims delivered a shocking, forearm blow to the ball carrier. The hit leveled the runner, and left everyone that witnessed the play awestruck.
But neither head coach Rod Marinelli or defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson -- or running back Brian Calhoun, for that matter -- appreciated the gesture.
"No, I don't," said Marinelli. "He's got to do things right."
But it isn't as though Marinelli, or the Lions scouting staff, should be surprised with Sims' tenacity. Marinelli knew what he was getting with the notorious hard-hitter. Sims was such a ferocious player at Florida State that collisions between himself and opponents typically left both players with short-term memory loss.
Sims admitted after the practice that his way of introducing himself to teammates would be by "laying the wood."
"Oh yeah, that felt real good," said Sims on the Calhoun hit, "It always feels good to get a little lick in. I really couldn't explode on him like I really wanted to but to get a little forearm in there felt real good."
Sims seemed to be incredibly quick on the field during the session, showing the speed and reaction ability that made him a dangerous outside linebacker at the collegiate level. But, Sims admitted, part of that was a two-day resting period that his teammates did not have the luxury of enjoying.
"They've got a little step on me but at the same time my legs are a little more fresh than theirs so you have to take that into consideration," he said, "The main thing right now is that I have to catch up with my studying and my playbook and everything. That's why I'm about to get into the film room and study hard."
Marinelli agreed. And, ironically, the normally uptempo, contact-centric coach will have to play the role of "Lion tamer" with Sims.
"He's faster than everybody right now – everybody's legs are tired," he said, "So he really looks fast. He is fast, but he's not that fast. He's an explosive but instinctive linebacker; his awareness inside-out to the ball, in the run game – he's going to develop into a real good pass defender because of his movement. He's got to learn those skills yet. He's got some natural blitz ability; really good blitz ability."
"With (defensive coordinator) Donnie (Henderson), he's got a good package in terms of blitzing and so forth, so I think we'll be able to really utilize this guy.
"Now we'll just get him in the fold and get the work for him."