Ron Rivera: Steven Sims will keep returning punts because he's the only option

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Peter Hailey
·2 min read
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Rivera: Sims will keep returning punts because he's only option originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

If you're reading this story, that means you care about the Washington Football Team, and if you care about the Washington Football Team, you're probably confused as to why Steven Sims is still returning punts for the franchise.

One week after muffing a kick that the Panthers immediately recovered for a touchdown, Sims very nearly fumbled away another one against the Eagles in the finale. While he did find a way to recover the loose pigskin, he was far too close to costing the Burgundy and Gold their division title. 

So, after the squad's practice on Thursday — their last one before they meet the Buccaneers on Saturday evening — Ron Rivera was asked once again for his thoughts on Sims' production at the position and whether there'd be any adjustments back there. 

And once again, his backing of Sims was rather tepid.

"He's the best guy we got," the coach said simply. "If we had a better alternative, I would go to it, but we don't."

Yeesh.

Rivera came around a bit over the course of his answer, maybe realizing that he was a little too blunt in his assessment of the special teamer. He shouldn't feel too bad about that, though, because Sims unfortunately just hasn't been that useful in the role.

As a rookie, No. 15 at least offset some of his issues and mental mistakes with game-changing plays. It wasn't always a guarantee that a ball headed toward his hands would stick, yet if it did, he was dynamic from that point on.

This season, however, Sims hasn't done nearly enough positive things on either offense or on punt returns to make up for his shortcomings. In addition to the two errors mentioned above, he also gave another kick away to the Cardinals in Week 2, and his receiving numbers are way down as well.

Now, when he was assessing Sims, Rivera told reporters that in the same moment, he could look out onto the fields at the organization's Ashburn facility and see Sims putting in extra return work. It's not like he's cool with how he's performing, and that's at least a little encouraging.

Still, anytime your boss reveals that you're keeping your gig simply because there's no one else to take it, that's extremely telling. So, prepare to watch Sims handle that role when Tampa comes to FedEx Field, but when a better time comes, be ready for another name to sit atop that area of the depth chart.