One of the Detroit Lions biggest weaknesses over recent years has been
drafting. Repeated misses with top-ten draft choices has contributed to repeated
losing seasons. However, this year's top-ten selection, linebacker Ernie Sims,
appears to have been the right choice.
Since 2002 the Lions have spent top 10 draft choices on quarterback Joey Harrington (now with the Miami Dolphins), wide receiver Charles Rogers, wide receiver Roy Williams and wide receiver Mike Williams. Of those four players, only Roy Williams is a starter for the team. Mike Williams remains on the team; however, he often finds himself inactive and is in danger of being released before next season. Harrington and Rogers were traded and released, respectively, this offseason. So after three top ten-draft choices going awry in four years, the Lions had to be certain to not squander another selection. They selected Sims with the No. 10 overall pick.
Sims leads team in tackles with 77, which is 26 more than rookie safety Daniel Bullocks, the team's second leading tackler. Sims currently ranks 17 in the league in tackles, third among rookies. His hard work has caught the eye of Lions head coach Rod Marinelli.
"Oh, yeah. I think the explosion, the explosion," said Marinelli "He is relentless on chasing the ball and doing those things… A guy that plays that hard, that physical into the pile (on) every down, every snap play and he's so willing. He wants to be a great player."
Some worry that Sims' performance will trial off towards the end of the season as he adjusts to the grueling National Football League schedule; however, Marinelli is not one of those people.
"He's been good," said Marinelli "It is a long season for him, but I would expect right now - we've sat and talked - that his game really starts picking up right now. I mean really picking up right now."
Marinelli expects Sims to play his best football of the season from here on out.
"Oh, yeah. That's what I expect from him," said Marinelli "I expect him to have his best six games, the last six games starting with this one."
The Lions defense has been inconsistent all season. The unit currently ranks 25 in the league, surrendering an average of 342.2 yards per game, and all appears hopeless at times. However, Sims' impressive play as a rookie has provided hope and optimism for the future.
In recent years Lions fans haven't had much to be thankful for by the Thanksgiving Day game. However, this year there is a bright spot, a potential star in the making on defense – Sims.
... DT Shaun Cody (toe) is doubtful. WR Eddie Drummond (concussion), WR Devale Ellis (shoulder), RB Kevin Jones (ankle) and G Blaine Saipaia (chest) are questionable. Cody, Drummond, Ellis and Jones all missed the team portion of practice Tuesday.
… DT Shaun Rogers, who has just completed a four-week suspension, will not
play this week. Marinelli on Rogers: "Well, we'll finish this week up. I think
he got some good work in today in terms of rehab stuff and all of those things.
I'm hoping, we're hoping he has a great chance for next week."
… RB Kevin Jones is not expected to play on Thanksgiving because of an ankle injury. Marinelli said the injury was just an ankle sprain instead of the more serious high ankle sprain.
… Marinelli said that Mike Williams will be "up and ready" for this game. He stopped short of saying he will play; however, confirmed he would be ready.