ALLEN PARK, Mich. - The Lions expected a speedy hitting machine when they drafted Ernie Sims, and so far, he's made the franchise look awfully smart.
The linebacker has led Detroit in tackles in each of his first two seasons, but both Sims and the coaching staff think he's capable of even more.
"I simply want to be the best I can be," he said after yesterday's training camp practice. "The best linebacker in the league.
"I've got to work on pass coverage and just do anything a person can do to be a better player."
He's off to a good start.
The ninth-overall pick in the 2006 draft has started all 32 games the Lions have played since he arrived. Sims ended his rookie season with a team-high 144 tackles - second among NFL rookies - that tied him for 12th in the league.
His teammates voted him a captain before his second season and he responded with 172 stops from his weak-side spot, good for fourth in the final NFL standings. His two-year total is fourth-best among NFL players in the same stretch.
Linebackers coach Phil Snow, who arrived in Detroit the same year Sims was drafted, said he knew the Florida State standout was a speedy collision hunter. The next step, the one that will make him an elite linebacker, is improving against the pass.
"Once he starts intercepting the football, he'll turn this league around," Snow said. "And he knows it.
"Against the run, he's as good as he's always been, but he's looked great against the pass so far this summer. That's what's going to make him a Pro Bowl player."
Sims, who had his only career interception last season, missed the contact drills with a bone bruise he suffered a day earlier. An MRI showed no serious injury, but he said he wasn't sure when he'd be back on the field.
"It's a day-to-day thing. Once the swelling goes down and the soreness gets out, I'll be ready to go back out," he said.
He'll almost certainly miss the Lions' Aug. 7 preseason opener against the visiting New York Giants.
In the meantime, there's still plenty he can impart to another explosive collision hunter: Jordon Dizon, the second-round pick the Lions hope to use extensively in the middle.
"Ernie has been doing a nice job with Jordon," Snow added. "They're similar-type players and he's going to learn a lot from him."
Sims said he enjoys the added teaching role.
"They've seen what I've done the last couple of years," he said. "When they see me make plays, that's part of learning what you have to do.
"That's the easy part."
NOTES: DT Langston Moore suffered a sprained shoulder during the morning session and is day-to-day. C Dominic Raiola missed the morning session with an ankle injury but could be back today, trainer Dean Kleinschmidt said. TE Dan Campbell (elbow), G Edwin Mulitalo (elbow), WR Shaun McDonald (knee) and S Daniel Bullocks (knee) also did not practice. The Lions signed WR Taye Biddle and waived K/P Paul Ernster. Biddle was waived by Tampa Bay. The Lions will hold a public scrimmage here at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. The session is open to the first 700 fans and the team will announce today where fans can obtain free tickets. Ford Field, the site of an annual open practice for the last several seasons, is hosting country singer Kenny Chesney's concert tour Saturday.
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