Pre-Team Health Screening: Colts LB Ernie Sims

As the Colts compile their 2011 roster, this series will take a look at the injury history of the players who are new to the team with the goal to provide realistic expectations of the player’s ability to contribute, given their reported health.

Sims sacks McNabb in Week 4 of the 2010 season

Whereas the Colts’ first free agent signing of the offseason (Anderson) was relatively injury-free, their second signing – LB Ernie Sims, formerly of the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles – has not been so healthy.  Among the garden-variety ankle sprains and quadriceps injuries, Sims has a history of shoulder problems.

Tom Kowalski noted that in 2007, Sims had spent 2 full games more on the field than the average defenseman that year (due to Detroit’s inability to stop their opponents).  He also noted that due to the fact that Sims is a “violent hitter and never lets up,” his shoulder tends to suffer late in the season.

He had “cleanup surgery” following the 2007 season, and while he had shoulder problems in 2008, didn’t require additional procedures.  It was never made public exactly what the surgery was for, but “cleanup” to me indicates that he probably had torn cartilage.

He again suffered what was described as a “significant” shoulder injury on September 20, 2009, when he dove at the Vikings’ Chester Taylor to knock him out of bounds, and landed on his shoulder.  Chillingly, Sean Yuille of the Pride of Detroit reported that “you could hear [Sims] screaming.”  However, it only kept him out for 2 weeks… until he suffered a Grade 2 hamstring tear that resulted in his sitting out 5 weeks.

After being traded to Philadelphia for the 2010 season, Sims had only minor bumps and bruises, despite having started all meaningful games (he sat out Week 17 before playing in the NFC Wild Card loss to Green Bay).  It’s likely that with the Eagles, he spent far less time on the field than he had with the Lions, contributing to his overall health.

Assessment: The injury concern for Sims is the long-term issue with his shoulder.  If the Colts can manage his game time, it is possible that he can have as injury-free a year as 2010.  However some of the descriptions I’ve read about Sims remind me of a certain Safety whom the Colts released last year – hard-hitting, nasty, even dirty.  I’ll look forward to seeing Sims hit with abandon, but recognize that each such hit could aggravate that shoulder injury.