Jay Gruden first mentioned the little-known Steven Sims by name all the way back on May 11, after Washington's first rookie minicamp practice of the offseason. Since then, the head coach has brought up the undrafted receiver a few more times when speaking to reporters, with most of those occasions being unprompted, too.
On Tuesday, two days before the Redskins' preseason finale against the Ravens, Gruden got the chance to expand on what he likes about the Kansas product who's making a serious push for the 53-man roster.
"When you watch Steven out here in practice and some of the games, I think when he has the ball in his hands, he's a very exciting player, electric," he said. "He's got the speed and quickness to separate... We love the prospect of him with the ball in his hands."
Many find the NFL's preseason finale (and some feel this way about the preseason as a whole) to be meaningless. Until the league alters the schedule, though, the contest will exist.
And for prospects like Sims, it's a vital final chance to impress the coaching staff. That's why, when sitting at his locker on Tuesday, he didn't even try to claim Thursday's matchup at FedEx Field would just be like another normal night to him.
"I feel the pressure," Sims said. "But it doesn't bother me. I know what's at stake. I knew that when I came here in OTAs, it's been the same since then, so I just got to keep the mindset I've always had."
Through three exhibitions, Sims has two catches for 25 yards. That stat line could look a lot better, but unfortunately, one highlight was wiped out due to a dubious penalty and a potential touchdown was wasted when Dwayne Haskins missed him in Atlanta.
Does he take any solace in the fact that he was in the right position for those crucial moments, at least? Nope. None at all.
"They don't count," he said. "To me, I haven't done anything yet. I'm still going to make my big play, I haven't made mine yet."
As of now, wideout is probably the most intriguing race with cuts coming this weekend. Washington has a few locks on the depth chart, but then a crowd of unproven yet talented commodities such as Sims, Robert Davis, Cam Sims (no relation), Kelvin Harmon and Darvon Kidsy, all of whom have a shot at the roster plus the practice squad.
While at the Ashburn podium, Gruden explained that he plans on especially featuring those who are battling during the Baltimore game, as he looks for clarity before Saturday's decisions.
"We need to see more from them," he said. "They wouldn't be here if we didn't think they had a legitimate chance to make this football team."
Sims said he's ready to show Gruden he can shine both on offense and on special teams. Throughout this process, he's grown more comfortable with the playbook and he thinks that familiarity is allowing him to move faster in live action.
Once Thursday concludes, Sims will then have a little more than 36 hours until he knows what his future holds. Fortunately for him, he'll have his 8-month old son, Steven III, by his side for that anxious period. Steven III will be in the stadium to watch his dad for the first time, then he'll help the pass catcher keep things in perspective no matter what the Redskins ultimately do.
"He's going to make me happy regardless of the decision they make," Sims said. "So I'll go from there."
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