BEREA - Last November David Sims was sitting at home in Ames, Ia., working out and, in his words, "chillin'."
The former Iowa State safety had been waived two months earlier by the New York Giants and again by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in early November. Playing in the NFL was still his dream, but he was going nowhere fast without an opportunity.
That's when he was contacted by the Browns, who signed him to their practice squad for the final five weeks of the season. Once again he had a foot in the door of a NFL franchise.
The Associated Press
Cleveland Browns’ David Sims reacts after intercepting a pass and returning it for a touchdown during the second half of a preseason NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers on Thursday.
Fast forward to training camp 2012. Sims has become an interception machine of late in his attempt to earn a roster spot. He intercepted a pass in each of the first two preseason games, taking one back 38 yards for a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers. In Monday's practice he intercepted Brandon Weeden and Seneca Wallace in 7-on-7 drills, returning the pick of Wallace for a touchdown.
The bubble that Sims was on entering camp might have floated away, leaving him on firm ground and close to earning that coveted roster spot.
"I try to do what I need to do to make plays," Sims said after practice. "I know my situation. I'm a free agent. This is my second year. Last year around this time I really didn't get an opportunity when I was with New York. I came here to show them that I can really play."
Sims has caught the attention of coach Pat Shurmur and the defensive assistants. Shurmur isn't prepared to make a final determination, but it would appear that Sims might be here when the season starts.
"He's challenging. He's physical, and he's really made a huge amount of progress," Shurmur said. "I'm hopeful it will continue in the next two preseason games because that's the kind of thing you want to see for a guy to make the team. He has to flash and make plays, and to his credit he's done that."
The best thing that happened for Sims' cause might have been when Mike Adams signed with the Denver Broncos in the offseason. Adams would have been a candidate to be in a mix along with T.J. Ward, Usama Young and Eric Hagg.
With Adams gone, the only other safety in contention for one of the four spots is Ray Ventrone. Ventrone is viewed more as a special teams player than a safety, which means there's still an opening in the secondary.
Sims didn't feel he was given a fair shot at making the Giants' roster.
"When I did get in I played very well," Sims said. "I think they kind of held me back because they had a situation where they drafted a guy."
Sims has a history of being around the ball and making plays. In two seasons at Iowa State he had six interceptions five in his junior season and one as a senior. He said he should have had several more interceptions in his senior season of 2010, but his hands failed him.
Sims intercepted Weeden once in rookie minicamp last May to go along with his two picks yesterday. He's starting to develop a reputation as a ball hawk.
"Never really in my career have I gotten interceptions," Sims said. "I had to develop as a practice player. I can count on one hand how many I got in practice. I always showed up in a game. If I do better in practice I'll do better in a game."
On the touchdown against the Packers Sims benefitted from a receiver falling down.
"I was thinking, 'I'm going to light this man up,' " Sims said. "I'm going to make a big hit. He fell and then my eyes lit up."
The play also lit up the eyes of the coaching staff.