Sims showed nice burst in Thursday's OTA, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports.
The fourth-year running back flashed some explosiveness after catching a short pass from Jameis Winston, an encouraging development for a Bucs backfield picture that remains murky for the time being. Laine speculates that Sims could see more action in the passing game -- including in the slot -- given his demonstrated proficiency as a receiver during his first three pro seasons (94 receptions over 31 games).
Sims, whose 2016 campaign was shortened to just seven games due to an assortment of injuries, will face competition from multiple weapons out of the backfield in Tampa Bay. Doug Martin could once again be the first-team RB when he returns from his suspension after the first three weeks of the season, while rookie Jeremy McNichols (shoulder) may cut into Sims' role as a pass catcher. The extremely crowded backfield also includes Jacquizz Rodgers, who lost weight throughout the offseason and added quickness as a result.
Sims (pectoral) will have competition for his pass-catching role from 2017 fifth-round pick Jeremy McNichols, who snared 103 receptions for 1,089 yards and 11 touchdowns in his college career, Scott Smith of the team's official site reports.
Sims has primarily cut his NFL teeth through the air, having compiled 94 receptions across 31 games over his first three seasons. However, McNichols brings virtually the same pass-catching acumen while also offering a much more impressive track record than Sims as a runner. Head coach Dirk Koetter emphasized that he views McNichols, who started his college career as a receiver, as a "three-down guy" that is an above-average blocker in the backfield as well. While Sims has proven valuable to the Bucs during his tenure, he's also missed 17 games over his three campaigns with an assortment of injuries and has limitations in the ground game. A strong training camp and preseason from McNichols could thus lessen Sims' potential usage this season, particularly if Doug Martin (suspension) resumes his role as the top running back after serving out his ban over the season's first three weeks.
Sims (pectoral) will return as a key component of the Tampa Bay backfield, while teammate Doug Martin (suspension) faces a more uncertain future, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Martin's suspension cost him $7 million in guarantees, making it more palatable for the Buccaneers to simply release him in the wake of an ineffective season that was plagued by both injuries and the suspension. Even if he sticks around, Martin will miss the first three games, and then may have to re-prove himself to the team. Sims also saw his 2016 campaign marred by injuries, limiting him to 75 touches (24 catches) in only seven games. He landed on injured reserve with a pectoral injury prior to Week 17, but there's been nothing to suggest the ailment will be a factor for the upcoming season, which means Sims should be locked into his usual role as the passing-down back. He'll have the potential for a bit more than that -- especially if Martin is released or ineffective -- but the Bucs also have Jacquizz Rodgers and Peyton Barber in the mix for carries. Given Sims' injury history, Rodgers' middling track record and Barber's inexperience, the Bucs may also look to upgrade via the draft.
The third-year back couldn't come close to duplicating his solid sophomore campaign, as injuries limited him to less than half a season's worth of games. Sims finished the 2016 season on injured reserve due to a pectoral injury suffered in Week 16 versus the Saints after missing eight games earlier in the campaign with a knee injury sustained in Week 4 against the Broncos. Had he not gone down with the latter injury, the West Virginia product was in line for what would have turned out to be an extended run as the starter, as Doug Martin would ultimately miss six games due to a hamstring ailment. Instead, Sims would go on to be sidelined for the following eight contests himself, which ended up opening the door for journeyman Jacquizz Rodgers to put together a potentially career-saving stint as the top backfield option. For the seven games in which he was active, Sims had trouble finding consistent running room behind an inconsistent Bucs offensive line but did display his usual proficiency in the passing game when given the opportunity. Heading into the final year of his original four-year deal in 2017, Sims' outlook is somewhat muddled, as the Bucs' backfield is currently in a state of unexpected flux; Martin, assuming he's retained by the team, will open next season serving a PED suspension, while Rodgers' status is still uncertain, given that he is now a free agent. Given his past body of work and skill set, Sims still profiles most in the change-of-pace, pass-catching back role that he's been deployed in over his first trio of pro seasons, but circumstances could potentially dictate an expanded role in 2017.
|P1||8/11/17||@ CIN||7:30 pm|
|P2||8/17/17||@ JAC||8:00 pm|
|1||9/10/17||@ MIA||1:00 pm|
|3||9/24/17||@ MIN||1:00 pm|
|6||10/15/17||@ ARI||4:05 pm|
|7||10/22/17||@ BUF||1:00 pm|
|9||11/5/17||@ NO||1:00 pm|
|Bye: Week 11|
|12||11/26/17||@ ATL||1:00 pm|
|13||12/3/17||@ GB||1:00 pm|
|16||12/24/17||@ CAR||1:00 pm|
|2014||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||8||0||66||185||2.8||20||1||1||10|
|2015||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||0||107||529||4.9||59||0||4||20|
|2016||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||7||2||51||149||2.9||23||1||1||6|
|2014||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||8||0||19||190||10.0||24||0||2||0||6|
|2015||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||0||51||561||11.0||56||4||3||2||22|
|2016||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||7||2||24||190||7.9||33||1||2||0||9|
|2014||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||8||1||1.0||0||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|2015||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||2||2.0||0||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|2016||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||7||5||5.0||0||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|
|2014||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||8||2||1||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|2015||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||2||2||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|2016||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||7||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0|