It was a surprise to some last fall when Redskins wide receiver Steven Sims made the team's initial 53-man roster. The undersized, speedy wideout had a solid preseason for Washington, but as an undrafted player, his chances of making the team's Week 1 squad at the beginning of training camp appeared quite slim.
Once the initial excitement of making the Burgundy and Gold's roster wore off, Sims quickly realized an important thing he needed to figure out: he had nowhere to live.
"I didn't have a home in Virginia as soon as we got back from [training camp in Richmond]," Sims said to Sam Fortier of the Washington Post.
Luckily for the wideout, one of his fellow rookies let him crash at his house until Sims got situated. That rookie? Quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
"When we came back to Ashburn, we had a few weeks before camp was over, so I stayed with Dwayne for around a month," Sims said.
During that span, the two of them would become very close. Sims had to adapt to Haskins' schedule, simply due to the fact that he also didn't have a car to get to work.
But for the pass-catcher, he didn't mind.
"It was fun. Dwayne, he loves football, just like me," Sims said. "All he wants to do is watch football, talk football and work. I was on his schedule [because I didn't have a car], so we were up early. I was [at Redskins Park] on a quarterback's schedule, so I was there before other receivers were. I feel like that was a blessing in disguise."
The first half of the 2019 season was difficult for both of them. Haskins found himself the backup to veteran Case Keenum and appeared just twice within the first eight weeks, struggling significantly in both outings. Sims was able to make an impact when he was on the field (see him TD run vs. New England in Week 5) but had minimal snaps on offense for much of that span.
Then, in Week 9, Haskins was named Washington's starter for the remainder of the season. Sims took over as the team's main slot pass-catcher in Week 12 and finished with 23 catches for 259 yards and four touchdowns over the Redskins' final six games, with Haskins the starter for five of them.
So, how was Sims, an undrafted rookie from Kansas, able to be so successful at the end of last year? Well, he credited his late-season success to the chemistry he built with Haskins earlier in the year, particularly when they lived under the same roof.
"[Last year's success] was just a lot with the connection me and Dwayne have," Sims said. "We built it early in the season, from the day I got there to living in his house. It worked out perfectly."
The duo has parlayed their strong finishes to 2019 into this offseason. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the two have been captured working out together on their own, along with fellow teammates Terry McLaurin and Steven Sims.
During a Zoom media session earlier this month, McLaurin had plenty of praise for both Haskins and Sims.
"With Steven Sims, I feel like he's probably made one of the biggest jumps to me personally because of how clean his feet are," McLaurin said. "I'm really excited to see him flourish in an offense that can showcase his versatility inside or out."
And for Haskins?
"He's having fun again," McLaurin said. "I feel like his focus is great right now. Physically, mentally, his personal life, he's cleaned some things up. He's ready to prove himself right, really, and just be the leader and the quarterback that this franchise needs and deserves."
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