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Five Players to Watch: Rob Sims

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It wasn't long ago that Kris Jenkins was one of the most feared defensive tackles in the NFL. That time is long gone for the prematurely old Jenkins. This season, Jenkins 1.5 sacks have come against Niners and Falcons, who need no adjective to describe their suckiness. Therefore, it's not Rob Sims venerable pass blocking we should watch, but his developing run blocking.

Sims has a power lifter's body. He's stout, bottom heavy and not terribly explosive. As such, he rarely gets pushed back, but nearly as rarely truly takes out a defender. It's not fair to say Sims is slow, but he's slow compared to the new breed of converted tight ends that have infiltrated the NFL. Sims is a guard's guard. His pull blocking is about quick feet, clean lines and a jarring hand punch. He's not a great run blocker, but he's also been unfairly criticized because of Shaun Alexander's shortcomings.

Unfairly, that is, until last week. Last week against Darnell Docket and the Arizona Cardinals Sims did what he's so consistently been accused of: blow blocks, blow assignments and allow frequent disruptive penetration. That could be growing pains or his first full season taking its toll. Given Sims' fanatical conditioning, I'm banking on the former. Sims should, and really must, be able to stop Jenkins the pass rusher. With Morris likely receiving the bulk of the carries, it would be nice to see him take care of business in the run game, too. That's far from an easy task. Jenkins may have lost the vital part of his agility and quickness, but he's still a big and strong SOB. The Panthers are strong against rushes behind left tackle (13th) and exceptionally strong against rushes around left end (3rd). The left happens to be Seattle's relatively strong run blocking side (18th end, 24th tackle). It's by no means expected, but it sure would be sweet if Sims could rebound against a tough opponent and have a break through as a run blocker. Morris will await whatever holes he can auger.