Titans Confident LeShaun Sims' Time Has Arrived

David Boclair

His Tennessee Titans teammates have seen what LeShaun Sims can do.

They’ve watched his attentiveness in the meeting rooms and witnessed his execution on the practice field.

Now the fourth-year cornerback has a chance to show he rest of the world what he can do like never before. When starter Malcolm Butler was placed on injured reserve early this week with a wrist injury it opened the door for Sims, a fifth-round draft pick in 2016, to get the most extended opportunity for playing time he has had.

“The guy’s a workaholic,” safety Kevin Byard said. “This guy’s here early in the morning. He does his job. He does what he needs to do. He’s been pretty much practicing and preparing himself like he is a starter since he’s been here. I’m just excited for him that he has the opportunity to play this week.

Added cornerback Logan Ryan: “He was the best corner in training camp this year. He didn’t let up a catch for 25 straight passes. I’ve never been a part of that. I’ve never seen anyone that good at that. So, he’s a good player.”

Sims started two games late last season when Ryan was hurt and saw significant action late in his rookie season after veteran Perrish Cox was released, including a game against Kansas City, the Titans’ opponent this Sunday at Nissan Stadium. He also was credited with five starts in 2017 as the nickel cornerback.

In all, he has made 76 tackles, intercepted two passes and broke up 12 more in 51 career appearances. In limited action this season he has made just four tackles.

“LeShaun will be prepared,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “I’m not worried about LeShaun. He’ll step up and he’ll do a good job. … It’s always tough when you lose a starter. It’s even tough when you lose a backup. You need everybody all the time but that’s the nature of this business. It’s never going to change. … And I feel very confident in LeShaun.”

At 6-oot, 203 pounds, Sims is the biggest of the Titans’ cornerbacks and – along with Byard (a third-round pick in 2016) – a senior member of the defensive backfield. Every other cornerback and safety on the roster arrived in 2017 or later, including Ryan and Butler, two high-profile free agent additions and Adoreé Jackson, a first-round pick in 2017 who all immediately jumped Sims on the depth chart.

Byard became a starter before the end of his rookie season and was an All-Pro in his second.

“LeShaun’s been here the past four years,” he said. “LeShaun understands what’s being asked of him. LeShaun understands the situation and I think he’s going to take advantage of his opportunity.

With seven games remaining this season, Sims’ best – and most extended – chance to playing time finally is at hand.

“This league is about opportunity,” Ryan said. “He hasn’t had it yet. So now is an opportunity for him to get some reps. … I got my first start when Aqib Talib got hurt seven years ago. I made the most of it. (Butler) got his first play in the Super Bowl. He waited 17 games or 18 games and got in the Super Bowl. And now we know Malcolm Butler as Malcolm Butler.

“So, that’s how this league works and I think LeShaun’s as ready as anybody.”

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