Former Tennessee Titans cornerback LeShaun Sims is competing alongside other Cincinnati Bengals cornerbacks looking to cement a role within the secondary in 2020. Sims’ demonstrated flashes in his time in Nashville but had a brand new opportunity to impress in Cincinnati.
Sims appears to be doing just that as he’s in line for a starting spot on the depth chart as the Bengals prepare for their “mock game.” Sims mostly made his presence known early on in his career with some notable special teams plays but was unable to stick with the team that drafted him for his fifth season.
With injuries and off the field incidents causing havoc in the Cincinnati secondary, Sims has been afforded a golden opportunity to make his claim for a spot in the starting lineup when Week 1 rolls around.
Potential opportunities for Bengals cornerbacks in 2020
Darius Phillips is set to take on a starting role at cornerback vacated by Waynes’ injury this season for the Bengals, but the third cornerback spot is for the taking for players like Sims. Cincinnati is in the midst of a significant defensive shift after the team finished last in the league in 2019, giving up an average of 8.3 yards per attempt and 6.1 yards per play.
The Bengals need to steady the ship within the secondary after they hauled in just 11 interceptions as a team last year, the ninth-fewest. Additionally, the defense allowed over 70 pass plays of 20 yards or more.
With a number of incidents having affected the likes of Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander, there are opportunities to be had for the players originally considered depth on this Bengals roster. An impressive finish to camp could lead to a starting role when the season opens.
Looking back to Tennessee
This is the first change of scenery Sims has seen in his career since the Titans drafted him in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. In Tennessee, Sims saw action in 56 games, starting a total of 11. Over four seasons, Sims registered 115 combined tackles, 89 solo, with eight passes defensed, one forced fumble, three fumble recoveries, and two interceptions.
Sims was especially productive on special teams; in fact, it was where he did most of his work, considering he never played more than 39 percent of defensive snaps. His versatility in terms of being able to play on special teams will also allow him more opportunities to impress over the last few days of camp.
Rose and Sims have the edge moving forward
The pair of Sims and Winston Rose have taken advantage of the opportunities presented to them, but it seems they were always in the coach’s mind. Back on August 9th, defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo spoke highly of the pair of corners, noting Sims’ experience in “meaningful football in big games.”
“…but don’t sleep on LeShaun Sims,” he said. “Don’t sleep on Winston Rose. Those guys are guys that have been successful. Winston up in Canada, having all those interceptions the last couple of years. LeShaun Sims has played meaningful football in big games. They’re all big guys. They all have length to them.”
Tony Brown is another player who has impressed at cornerback lately with the second team. He would have caught more attention had he reeled in one of his two dropped interceptions, but he’s getting noticed nonetheless. It’s a deep cornerback group, but expect Sims and Rose to stick and potentially make an impact when Week 1 comes around.