Marinelli on Sims: "He's a beast."

Lions' running back Tatum Bell took the hand-off from quarterback Dan Orlovsky. A few moments later, his world turned from honolulu blue to black. As he glanced up, number '50' was walking away from the scene of the crime.

Lions' running back Tatum Bell took the hand-off from quarterback Dan Orlovsky. A few moments later, his world turned from honolulu blue to black. As he glanced up, number '50' was walking away from the scene of the crime.

Nothing has changed between Ernie Sims' rookie season and 2007. Instead, the second-year linebacker is quicker, more aware of his surroundings, and that doesn't bode well for opponents -- or his teammates, for that matter.

During Sunday's morning session of training camp, Sims leveled Bell to the delight of his defensive teammates. And Lions' head coach Rod Marinelli made no apologies for Sims' search-and-destroy technique.

"He crunched him, and that's a part of the etiquette I'm talking about," said Marinelli. "You can have a very physical practice and still have good etiquette and not get people beat up. Everyday you see me bring them together and go over what I want them to do, but I go over etiquette everyday before all of that.

"You know we don't dive for loose balls; you don't help a teammate up. You just have got to be smart, no piles. So if you work like that, and they're doing it, that's important."

Marinelli added that Sims, who led the team in tackles last year with 124, has improved after his outstanding rookie campaign. While Sims was everywhere on the football field in 2006, that didn't necessarily benefit the team -- many times missing an assignment and leaving the defense vulnerable.

"I think (defensive coordinator) Joe Barry and (defensive assistant) Phil Snow really helped him (get) detailed him up," said Marinelli. "God, he's relentless. His speed, he's always been fast; he's no faster than he was last year, but he's seeing things faster and reacting faster.

"I've been on his bandwagon for a year and a half, I believe in Ernie."

Sims will play on the outside again in 2007, a part of a younger, faster linebacker core that demonstrated glimpses of brilliance -- and many occasions of ineptitude -- while adjusting to Marinelli's Tampa Two defense.

As Marinelli continues to replicate the defense he built that led Tampa Bay to its Super Bowl win in 2003, he again made the frequent comparison between Sims and All-Pro Buccaneers' linebacker Derrick Brooks.

"He's a downhill player, he's explosive," said Marinelli. "We're blitzing him some in A-Gap blitz's. When you're really comfortable with what you're doing, then you really feel fast.

"He's fast anyway, but now you'll start seeing him really slice things. See him in the backfield spilling things really well. When you get players like that and you can make it simple for them, you will see explosion."

So does that mean his teammates should be on high-alert?

"He's friendly fire now," said Marinelli. "You're in the pile and looking around (wondering), 'is he coming or not?' He is coming to piles now and he'll blow up a teammate, not intentionally, but he's coming.

"That's what you love about him. (Last year) he knocked Fernando Bryant out cold. This guy is a beast out there, he loves it. He just loves to play football."


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