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Despite Bigger Role, WR Steven Sims Keeping Same Approach

With Chase Claypool now playing football in Chicago, the door’s opened for WR Steven Sims. Presumably the team’s starting slot receiver this weekend against the New Orleans Saints, Sims recognizes the chance he has to impact this offense the rest of the season. But his weekly approach will remain the same.

Speaking to reporters for the first time since Claypool was dealt, Sims discussed his mindset heading into the weekend.

“Everything’s the same for me,” he said as tweeted by The Trib’s Chris Adamski. “Getting a bigger role, getting more opportunities to help the team win. And that’s all I can ask for.”

Sims has hung onto the roster the last two years, working his way up from practice squader to return man and now a regular piece of the Steelers’ offense. Dangerous in space, Sims should be highly involved in the wide receiver run game. In the team’s Week 8 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Sims played a season-high eleven offensive snaps, touching the ball four times with two receptions and two runs. The latter were more successful with 21 yards on the ground.

Sims had a quiet start to the summer but came on strong down the stretch and made the team as the Steelers temporarily kept seven wide receivers before placing rookie Calvin Austin III on injured reserve. Here’s what we wrote about Sims exiting the preseason:

“He’s dangerous in open grass with impressive one-cut ability and made an impact on jet runs in the preseason, a good fit for what Matt Canada is looking for…His biggest flaw are suspect hands. He drops too many that hit him in the hands.”

A much different body type than Claypool, the Steelers would be smart to utilize Sims in space and over the middle of the field. Receivers haven’t had many YAC opportunities this season with Matt Canada basing his offense towards the sidelines with little chance to do anything post-catch. Sims will likely be used as a “space” player in the passing game, used on screens and RPOs and catches in the flat. He’ll likely have a low average depth of target and will need to create post-catch in order to be successful.

With Pittsburgh starving for splash plays, Sims knows he has to make the most of the next nine games.

“I gotta capitalize on those opportunities,” he said Monday.

Sims won’t be the only player benefitting from the Claypool trade. Gunner Olszewski should also see time while Diontae Johnson could log more reps in the slot, allowing Miles Boykin time on the outside. While Sims will work in the slot, he spent plenty of time in camp playing on the outside so he isn’t strictly a slot/F receiver in this offense. He’s also expected to remain the team’s starting return man and has already made splash plays there, highlighted by an 89-yard kick return against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Steelers’ Week 6 win.

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