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A lot of quarterbacks lined up under center for the Washington Football Team last year, and they all seemed to gravitate towards Cam Sims. After spending the summer with him, Ryan Fitzpatrick gets the appeal.
After two seasons of bouncing between the active roster and practice squad, Sims finally had the season that many fans were hoping to see with 477 yards and a touchdown. His work ethic and physical tools won over Ron Rivera, and he's starting to do the same with Fitzpatrick.
"Cam did a nice job last year, showing up on film and popping on some of those big plays," Fitzpatrick said, "but he's had a great off season and he's one of my favorites out there."
Fitzpatrick didn't know much about Sims when he signed with Washington in March. As they went through OTAs and mandatory minicamp, though, Sims' 6-foot-5, 220-pound frame and consistency impressed him more and more every day.
He needed a second opinion, so he called someone with more experience throwing to Sims: former Washington quarterback Alex Smith.
"'Alex, I really like Cam Sims,'" Fitzpatrick recalls saying to Smith. "'Am I seeing things right?' Like I'm trying to figure this out, and I got the same response from him. He's so quarterback friendly."
Fitzpatrick said Sims can be put "everywhere" on the field, which echoes the sentiment given by receivers coach Drew Terrell on how important Sims was to the offense's success last year. Terrell called Sims "the glue" of the receiver corps because of his willingness to block and ability to make key plays like the one-handed grab that helped upset the Pittsburgh Steelers last year.
"He's one of the smartest guys in the room, in terms of being able to move him around," Terrell said. "He's doing a really good job."
Sims had a relatively quiet preseason; he made two receptions for 19 yards against the Bengals and didn't play in the finale against the Ravens. What he was showing in practice, combined with his stats from the previous season, showed that deserved to be one of Washington's seven receivers on the initial 53-man roster.
"He's a big body, very reliable," Fitzpatrick said. "He's going to be in the right spot, but he's also a down the field guy that's going to be able to make those big plays and go above the rim and get the ball."
Having an offseason that's closer to normalcy has also helped Sims take further steps in his development. Most of it involves technical things like adjusting his splits so defensive backs can't predict which routes he will run. Working with a quarterback like Fitzpatrick, who relishes helping his teammates work on smaller aspects of their game, has only helped him refine those improvements.
"He just brings that veteran QB leadership to the equation," Sims said. "He lets you know...what he wants and stuff like that."
Sims might need to step into an even larger role than anticipated for Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Chargers. But the former Alabama wideout was in a similar situation last year. Based on the results, Sims should have no problem handling it.
"I always come into any situation with a ton of confidence," Sims said. "But coming out the season like that, I just want to be up for the next year and keep going."