In Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon, the Redskins have a rookie receiver who's legitimately become one of the better outside threats in the NFL and another first-year wideout who's starting to show signs of true growth these past few weeks.
What Steven Sims has done in his debut season, though, is more surprising than both McLaurin's stardom and Harmon's recent improvement.
Sims wasn't drafted in April. Instead, he joined the Redskins for rookie minicamp in May, where he stood out, and then made his way down to Richmond for training camp, where he again stood out, and then was used often in the preseason, where he again stood out.
That promising run was enough to earn him a place on the Redskins' 53-man roster. Sims has since played in all 11 games for Washington in 2019 and on Sunday against the Lions, he ripped off a 91-yard kickoff return touchdown. He also has a 65-yard rushing score on his stat sheet.
In just a few months, he's gone from a no-name to a known name. This year is exceptionally light on encouraging developments for the Burgundy and Gold, but Sims is the biggest exception to that.
"He has unique quickness, sudden change," Callahan told reporters on Monday. "Sometimes, I think in the draft what happens is everyone’s looking for the great size and speed, and sometimes guys like Steven get overlooked at times, so it was a good job by our scouting department to pick him up, bring him in and have him excel at what he’s doing right now."
Sims' TD — the franchise's first on a kickoff since 2015 — started off with a bobble. No. 15 told JP Finlay after the game he misjudged the ball when it was in the air and it ended up glancing off of his shoulder and bouncing onto the FedEx Field grass. He quickly scooped it up, however, and weaved through Detroit's coverage unit before bursting up the sideline.
"I've been waiting all year for that," he said.
So far, Sims has 11 catches, six rushes and 26 kick returns. In all, that's 43 touches, with only 17 coming on offense. Guys like McLaurin, Derrius Guice and Adrian Peterson all need their targets and carries, sure, but Sims has done enough to warrant more looks, too.
Back when he was in charge, Jay Gruden would talk about how Sims was still quite raw, and Callahan also mentioned he's going through a "progression." Fortunately, Callahan did indicate on Monday that Sims could become more of a focal point in the Redskins' last five matchups. The interim coach explained that coaches want to put Sims in more one-on-one situations and take advantage of his explosiveness.
One thing that's confusing? The fact that Sims hasn't been given a chance to catch punts yet. Trey Quinn is barely averaging five yards a return at that spot and he hasn't displayed any of the agility or top-line speed that Sims has.
In response to a question about Sims taking that job over, Callahan merely said he's the backup and could have an opportunity at some point. That point should be now.
Regardless, Sims has proven he belongs in the league and, while he may never become a true, every-down wide receiver for the Redskins, he definitely has nailed down a role that could be his for quite some time. People began noticing him in the spring. Now, it's impossible not to notice him.
"He's an amazing talent," Morgan Moses said. "You get the ball in his hand and you know a big play is going to come."
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