How Cam Sims embodies Ron Rivera's goal of developing his young players

Peter Hailey
·4 min read

How Sims embodies Rivera's goal of developing his young players originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Going into Sunday's game against the Giants, Cam Sims had compiled 88 career receiving yards in the NFL across 15 different appearances.

In Sunday's game against the Giants, Sims compiled 110 receiving yards across four quarters.

It was a sudden breakout for a player who entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2018. But those who've been around him and watched his development will tell you that eye-catching performance was the result of a lot of steady work and growth.

"I think Cam's done a great job of being more deliberate with his preparation," assistant wide receivers coach Drew Terrell told NBC Sports Washington on Monday. "I think, initially, it took him a little bit to get used to the way we coach, the way we teach. It took him a little bit to buy into the process of being a pro day in, day out... Coming to practice with an intention, and not just coming to practice to practice."

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After his Week 9 effort, Sims spoke to a lot of the same points that Terrell did. No. 89 originally made the roster because of his outstanding contributions on special teams, but in recent matchups, he's found himself getting more involved on offense. 

In mid-October, Sims hauled in his first-ever pro touchdown in New York, and with Dontrelle Inman missing the sequel with the Giants due to injury, Sims expected to be called on more. He was, and he delivered.

"My dad always said: ‘Just be prepared for any situation,’" Sims told reporters. "My opportunity came and I was prepared.”

Sims' three receptions at FedExField went for 32, 45 and 33 yards, distances that Washington's weapons outside of Terry McLaurin typically haven't reached in 2020. McLaurin himself was quite proud of his teammate, a feeling that dates back to the summer.

"It’s hard to say where he has not been better," McLaurin said. "The way he came into camp this year, I knew he had potential to have a great year if he had the opportunity. What I respect most about Cam is he doesn’t say much. Whether he gets the ball or is blocking or playing special teams, he’ll do whatever. He’s willing to do the dirty work. He’ll do whatever for this team. That hits me right in my heart because that’s the kind of guy I am, so I resonate with that."

Since joining the franchise out of Alabama, Sims has been known to stand out in training camp. If there were PPR fantasy leagues for what transpired in Richmond and Ashburn over the past few summers, Sims would've been a top pick. But until Sunday, he hadn't yet transferred that production into meaningful action. 

Rivera, much like Terrell, notices Sims really committing more in every facet of his job, and as long as he keeps doing that, he envisions more loaded stat lines from the 24-year-old moving forward.

"The way Cam Sims practices and the things he’s capable of doing as an athlete, they’re pretty impressive," Rivera said. "He’s a heck of a football player and I just think he’s going to get better and better as he continues to work on his game.”

While Rivera has recently altered his focus to try and get his roster into the playoffs because they're one-fourth of the woeful NFC East, his primary goal leading into the season was to develop a core he could build around. That's what enticed him so much about the Washington gig: A lot of young pieces existed and he would have the ability to evaluate them all and locate the ones worth keeping.

And as Rivera explained on Monday, Sims is a prime example of that process unfolding properly. 

Sims has always had promising tools — his size tops the list, but so, too, does his body control and 4.5 speed — yet those tools hadn't really been unleashed before Rivera's arrival. Now, a single 100-yard effort doesn't mean he's guaranteed for stardom, but it's a sign that, at least in his case, things are beginning to click and maybe he can be a part of the franchise's future. 

"Look at what he’s done," Rivera said, mentioning Sims alongside Cole Holcomb as a pair of players who are finding a rhythm and a role. "When I sit here and look at these names, I go: ‘Wow, these are some young guys that are playing. These are guys that don’t have a lot of NFL experience going out there right now and gaining that NFL experience that’s going to help us.’ I really believe that."

Sims has a long way to go to solidify himself in Washington, but he's already come a long way as well. A 2-6 record doesn't suggest a lot of overall progress is being made, but individually, Sims is one person who's absolutely improving.