"Football is a physical sport, the way I see it. Playing defense you've got to take whatever you can get," Sims said. "If I was coaching defense, I might have to step up and say, 'Hey, we got to take care of our players,' but if I was the head coach or the defensive coordinator, in the back of my head, I would be grinning."
That could be the case, too. As long as the offensive player is only separated from the ball and not some more vital appendage, there's nothing wrong with seeing some added toughness on a defense that didn't scare many opponents last season.
Plus, can you really blame Ernie Sims? The man was just paroled after four seasons with the Detroit Lions. He comes to a team that might be in transition, but it's a lot better to be transitioning from 11-5 than from 2-14.
Sims likes to talk about winning, which, given his recent experience, is like listening to an Eskimo speak longingly about a warm winter. In his football career, Sims has known about winning. His high school team won four straight state championships. His college team, Florida State, had a regular-season record of 26-9 during his three seasons with the Seminoles.
Since then, however, well, it's been Detroit.
The last time Sims played in a win was Dec. 23, 2007, the second-to-last game of the 2007 regular season, which is the only kind of season they know about in Detroit. The Lions were winless in 2008 and Sims was out with an injury for both of Detroit's wins last season. That means Sims is on a personal 0-for-28 stretch. (And 1 for 35, but there's no reason to rub it in.)
Now he looks around him and sees a team with a chance, not just for a few wins, but for bunches of them. He studies his defensive teammates and sees a rebuilt unit that is physical and possesses a little bit of a mean streak. He likes the possibilities, and if that means an offensive player is going to hit the ground hard in practice now and again, Sims can live with that.
"On game day," Sims said, "we'll all work for each other."
Monday, it was fullback Eldra Buckley who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Actually, it was the right time, because the live hitting drill hadn't quite begun. Nevertheless, Sims shot through on a screen-pass attempt as the ball arrived and he leveled Buckley.
"He just missed it by one play," coach Andy Reid observed, when asked about Sims' failure to distinguish between the non-contact and full-contact plays.
"That's the kind of player he is. He flies to the ball and tries to make contact," Buckley said diplomatically. "I respect that. I do that, too. When I get into the open field, I'm going to lower my shoulder. He hits me. I'll get my chance to hit him. It works out."
Previously in camp, Sims smacked tight end Clay Harbor in the back during a non-contact session and he drilled Jason Avant on the first day of full-squad workouts, and that hit came on a 7-on-7 drill that is really just for the offense to run through its playbook. Reid called Sims over after that one and sat him down.
"His first reaction is he wants to take your head off, and I appreciate that. I love that attitude. I think that's contagious," Reid said. "At the same time, you don't want to do anything to hurt your teammates. We need everybody."
Reid did not say if, in the back of his head, he was grinning.
"I don't try to get kicked out of drills," Sims said, "but sometimes my aggression takes over."
In his first three seasons with the Lions, Sims, the ninth overall pick of the 2006 draft, compiled 456 total tackles. His numbers were off last season as he missed five games with a shoulder and a hamstring injury, but he has shown no lingering affects of those injuries.
"I go as hard as I can every practice, then when it's game time, it comes easy," Sims said. "I'm just excited about being here and it's going to be fun."
For the Eagles' offensive players, it will be even more fun when he starts hitting guys from the other teams.
Contact columnist Bob Ford
at 215-854-5842 or email@example.com. Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/bobford.