For Rob Sims, football is fun again

Posted Aug 6, 2009

As Rob Sims was making his way to the practice field, the Seahawks’ fourth-year guard did a near face plant into a camerman and let out a booming roar that had to startle dogs on the other side of Lake Washington.

As Rob Sims was making his way to the practice field, he spotted a TV cameraman. The Seahawks’ fourth-year guard did a near face plant into the lens and let out a booming roar that had to startle dogs on the other side of Lake Washington.

Yes, the fun is back in football for Sims.

“Definitely,” Sims said after practice at the team’s training camp. “The game is fun again.”

His teammates have noticed the change in his outlook, especially center Chris Spencer – who not only lines up next to Sims but is one of his best friends on the team.

“He’s so comfortable out there it’s just coming so easily for him,” Spencer said. “We were in the cold tub the other day and I just told him, ‘Man, I’m just so proud of you, battling back the way you have.’ ”

Spencer then acted like he was choking up and wiping away tears before adding, “No, really, Rob is doing really, really well right now.” 

That definitely was not the case last year, when Sims tore the pectoral in his left shoulder dung the opener and spent the rest of the season on injured reserve – and way too much time in the training room. As his team struggled through an injury-ravaged 4-12 season that saw all five starters on the offensive line eventually end up on IR, Sims wrestled with his inability to help.

“It was rough to watch and rough to be out,” he said. “I was depressed for a long time there.”

But that was then, and this is now.

“All that stuff is in the past – pressure, negative media, all that kind of stuff,” Sims said. “I’ve put it behind me. I’m done with all that.

“Last year taught me a lot. I forgot how much I love the game. So every day I’m out here and get to put on the pads, it’s a blessing.”

Sims is not only back on the field, he’s back at left guard – the position he started playing in middle school, where he excelled as an all-state performer at Nordonia High School in Ohio and an all-conference selection at Ohio State and the spot he filled during his first two seasons with the Seahawks.

When the Seahawks signed Mike Wahle last year, Sims made the switch to the right side, and he remained there through the spring minicamps and OTA sessions. But when Wahle was released on the first day of camp because he was unable to regain strength in his surgically repaired shoulder, Sims stepped back into his comfort zone.

“It’s very natural,” Sims said of the left side being his right side. “The weird part was being on the right side. But I’m prepared to play anywhere. If they want me to come in here and kick, I’ll do that.”

The Seahawks aren’t that desperate, but coach Jim Mora is on record as agreeing that the health of the offensive line – where the five starters missed a combined 34 games in 2008 – remains a concern as the Seahawks move into the second week of camp.

Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones is sidelined because of back spasms and being replaced by right tackle Sean Locklear, who is being replaced on the right side by Ray Willis – but Willis is limited to one practice a day to rest his left knee, so Kyle Williams also is getting some time with the No. 1 unit. Wahle is gone. Mansfield Wrotto has stepped in for Sims on the right side, but eventually could be replaced by rookie Max Unger.

“We’re certainly working through a lot of issues,” Mora said. “But we’re seeing what we want to see. In (Sunday) afternoon’s practice, it looked like the running game started to gel a little bit. We were a little bit more cohesive in our zone-blocking scheme. There were some creases that we hadn’t seen previously.

“So I think they like it.” 

Sims does, and he is determined to deliver.

“The expectations are there,” said Sims, a fourth-round draft choice in 2006. “My biggest fear is not living up to my potential. That’s why I go out here and push it the way I do every single day. I know it’s there. I think other people know it’s there.

“I’ve just got to go do it.” 

The switch to the zone-blocking scheme under new offensive coordinator Greg Knapp and line coach Mike Solari is helping, because it features the linemen’s ability to move – always one of Sims’ strengths.

“That’s our kind of style,” Sims said. “In other years, the emphasis was on power. I think he did an OK job with that. But this just kind of makes us a lot better – running the ball, but also setting up the passing game better.

“Everything is set up for me to do what I need to do.”

Sims was on the verge of a breakthrough season last year, only to breakdown in the season-opening loss to the Bills in Buffalo.

“I do feel I was set to do it,” Sims said. “But you know what? As soon as I got it, there have been high expectations. It was always like, ‘This is your year. This is your time.’ ”

But with those high expectations also comes pressure – internal and external.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself anyway,” he said. “So when you get the outcome like last season, it’s just not any fun.”

There’s that word again: fun.

“I’m just going to have fun it,” he said. “And whatever happens, happens.”