Ready for his shot: Steven Sims laughed as he stood in the Steelers locker room, surrounded by media in his locker before moving past a Steelers backdrop which is normally used for the biggest interviews of the day due to the onslaught of cameras and attention.
“I’ve never been to this before,” laughed Sims.
Well, there was a reason.
Following the trade of receiver Chase Claypool, who spent time working in the slot, Sims is one of the players now in the spotlight for the passing game and that meant the bright lights were on him.
“I started playing in the slot machine when I got into the league,” Sims said. “I’ve been playing there ever since, bouncing inside and out. I can do both.”
Coach Mike Tomlin expressed confidence in the wide receiver’s depth after trading Claypool to the Chicago Bears for a second-round pick. It’s something Sims loves to hear but knows it’s not just about him.
“They trust everyone in the room,” Sims said. “There are a few of us playing in the slot, me and Gunner (Olszewski), so we bring a different style, both of us. I guess they trust that, the different versatility that we bring in the slot machine .”
Sims said his role was yet to be defined on Monday as it was a bonus practice day after the weekend off. But he is happy to accept the role entrusted to him and accepts the challenge.
“I see myself getting in there, driving more roads than I’ve been on, doing gimmicky stuff, moves and that, jet sweeps,” Sims said. “I’m just looking to build on that.
“I did everything they ask me to do. When I come in, I make explosive plays. I guess they like that.
“Everything is the same for me. I get a bigger role, more opportunities to help the team win. That’s all I can ask for, more opportunities. I have to capitalize on those opportunities.”
Sims is more of a prototype slot receiver at 5-10, compared to Claypool who is at 6-4. But recently bigger players have been used in the slot machine all over the NFL.
“Obviously Chase is a big body, not me,” Sims said. “We bring different elements to the game. I’m quicker than quick. We’re just different.
“I guess it’s the coaches. They like big players. It was always like that when I was younger. You’re always going to pick the bigger guys before me, thinking the bigger one is better than me. The time will tell.”
And for Sims, time has told the tale. He went from being a kid who was told he was unlucky, to not getting much attention from colleges, to not getting drafted, and moving on from the team to training to the list of 53 players.
“I remember my college coach telling me I was going to be nothing,” Sims said. “It’s just my journey. Ever since I was young, I’ve always been an underdog story. It’s just my nature to work. Waiting my turn. It’s normal for me. Always being counted. Underdog , little guy. I just work.
“I do the work like everyone else. I work hard, I work hard. I go to every rep at full speed, every rep likes it to be a game, every workout likes it to be a game. It just elevated my game as I grew in the league and got me to the point where I am now.”