When the Jacksonville Jaguars take the field on Thursday for their final preseason game, they'll be facing a familiar face on the St. Louis Rams. Mike Sims-Walker, who the Rams picked up shortly after free agency started, spent his first four seasons in the NFL on the Jaguars. "It's definitely bittersweet," Sims-Walker told Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Dispatch. "I looked at the schedule when I signed, and I saw it wrong. I thought it was the first game of the regular season. I was excited."
It will be interesting to watch Sims-Walker on the opposite sideline lining up against defensive backs he's not unfamiliar with. Sims-Walker lined up against the likes of Rashean Mathis and Derek Cox in practice, and often beat them. It's different in a game situation, but he's also now in a more wide open offense with a young quarterback in Sam Bradford who likes to sling the ball around.
Sims-Walker also played with former St. Louis Rams great Torry Holt when Holt spent one season with the Jaguars. Apparently, Holt took Sims-Walker under his wing in 2009 and became more than just a mentor, a father figure. "I called Torry up as soon as I agreed (to terms)," said Sims-Walker. "He said it's home of the wide receivers."
Sims-Walker left in free agency after the Jaguars decided it was best for them to move on. Sims-Walker wasn't bad for the Jaguars, but he often dealt with injuries and struggled to stay on the football field. In 2010, Sims-Walker struggled through an ankle injury for almost the full season. "That probably was my roughest season I played in. A lot of guys probably didn't know I was hurt, but I was out there at maybe 75 percent at best. I was just out there for the team. They asked me to go out there playing and I tried to fight through as best I could, tried to get shot up, whatever it took for me to go out there and help my team win. I struggled but I was out there," Sims-Walker said during an interview on ESPN 101 in St. Louis.
Most players, especially at wide receiver, aren't going to rush out on the field if their 75 percent. Sims-Walker was asked why he pushed himself to play, "It's a team game. It's not about me. It's about those ten other guys on the field. We're out there trying to accomplish one goal and that's a win," said Sims-Walker. "If I have to go out there and play hurt or whatever that may be I'm gonna do it for them."
Sims-Walker seems to be fitting in well with the Rams, too. He's currently in their top 3 of the wide receiver rotation with Brandon Gibson and Danny Amendola. In last weeks preseason game, Sims-Walker opened up to start the game out wide on the initial drive. According to the team, they're very happy with the pick up. Billy Devaney, the Rams general manager said, "He was nicked a little bit last year with an ankle that hampered him. He tried to play through it, but you could see that he wasn't 100 percent. The guy scored 14 touchdowns over the last two years, so he's got some ability. That's what we were looking for - a bigger guy that can run a little bit."
It's uncertain how long Sims-Walker will play Thursday against the Jaguars, but I'd be willing to bet he's going to ask for playing time, especially give the struggle the Jaguars have had at the position so far. I've been on record expressing I thought it was a big mistake to let him walk, even with his injury struggles and consistency catching the football. The Rams think they've picked up a gem in free agency.
On the Jaguars in 2009, Sims-Walker had 63 catches for 869 yards and 7 TDs. Last season, he finished with 43 catches for 562 yards and 7 TDs. So far in the preseason, Sims-Walker 2 catches for 32 yards and 1 TD in two games.