Entering the starting lineup following the trade deadline move of Chase Claypool to the Chicago Bears for a second round pick, veteran wide receiver Steven Sims shows some flashes for the Pittsburgh Steelers in an extended look in the slot.
Though the flashes were explosive in nature, they were few and far in between, which has the veteran restricted free agent feeling like he left some “meat on the bone” in 2022, borrowing a popular saying from Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin.
Ahead of the 2023 season, assuming he is brought back on a restricted tender, Sims is eyeing a more prominent role with the black and gold and aims to not leave meat on the bone with his next opportunity, he told Steelers.com’s Teresa Varley.
“I felt like I left some meat on the bone, as Coach T would say,” said Sims, according to Steelers.com. “I wanted to get in the end zone, kick return, punt return touchdown. That kind of upsets me because you never know when an opportunity is going to happen. …Overall, though, I feel I had a good year when I had the chance to make a play with the ball. I did what I could. I feel like I played my role is to the best of my ability, which is what the coaches asked me to do.
“I just want to build on it. I am striving for a bigger role. I just keep working every day and let everything else around me handle itself,” Sims added, according to Steelers.com. “Just keep working hard. And when I do get my opportunity, make them want to give me the ball more and give me a bigger role.”
Sims played in 12 games in 2022 for the Steelers, recording two starts. On the year, while playing 284 offensive snaps (34%), Sims caught 14 passes for 104 yards and added 13 carries for 70 yards. He also returned 19 punts for 105 yards, a 5.5-yard average, and 17 kickoffs for 434 yards, a 25.5-yard average that included an 89-yard return against Tampa Bay in Week 6.
The offensive numbers were rather similar to the ones Claypool put up in his time in Chicago, hauling in 14 passes for 140 yards in seven games with the Bears. The production drop-off from Claypool to Sims wasn’t that steep at all, if there even was one.
Still, entering the 2023 season the Steelers need significant help in the slot. Sims aims to be that guy and certainly showed flashes down the stretch, hauling in big catches against the Baltimore Ravens and adding big runs against the Carolina Panthers and Cleveland Browns offensively.
While he had some issues making plays in contested-catch situations, Sims came up clutch late in the season, recording a 22-yard run on the road against Carolina in a Week 15 win, following that up with three-catch, 34-yard performance in Week 17 on the road against Baltimore, hauling in a 28-yard strike from rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett up the seam between Ravens defenders on the game-winning drive, and then added a 16-yard run in the season finale win against the Cleveland Browns, helping the Steelers finish 9-8 on the season.