LANDOVER — Late in the third quarter, as the Washington Football Team attempted to stage a comeback, Cam Sims popped up again.
For his first two receptions, quarterback Alex Smith found the 24-year-old wide receiver in space, streaking up the middle or down the sideline for big gainers. But on this occasion, Sims made his own space. He caught the ball on a crossing route, turned up field and danced through New York Giants defenders for an extra 30 yards after the catch.
The play punctuated a 110-yard performance for Sims, a coming-out party of sorts for a wideout who has featured sparingly since signing as an undrafted free agent in 2018. But on a 2-6 team, opportunities appear for young players.
And on Sunday, in the Giants’ 23-20 win at FedEx Field, Sims took advantage of his chances, laying the groundwork for future production while displaying the pass-catching talent Washington has at its disposal.
“Just being prepared,” Sims said. “My dad always said: ‘Just be prepared for any situation.’ My opportunity came and I was prepared.”
Before Sunday, Sims had caught six passes for 88 yards in 15 career games. But Terry McLaurin — who caught seven passes for 115 yards and a score against the Giants — saw the early signs of Sims’ breakout during training camp.
McLaurin figured if Sims got an opportunity, he’d take it.
With a glut of injuries to receivers in recent weeks, Sims has that chance now. Smith found him over the middle with a minute remaining before halftime for a catch-and-run of 33 yards. To open the second half, a 45-yard completion to Sims down the sideline helped set up an Antonio Gibson rushing touchdown.
“The way Cam Sims practices and the things he’s capable of doing as an athlete, they’re pretty impressive,” coach Ron Rivera said. “He’s a heck of a football player and I just think he’s going to get better and better as he continues to work on his game.”
Sims feels those plays are byproducts of the trust he built with Washington’s quarterbacks during training camp. Even then, though, his four targets Sunday matched how many he saw during the first seven games of his season.
“What I respect most about Cam is he doesn’t say much,” McLaurin said. “Whether he gets the ball or is blocking or playing special teams, he’ll do whatever. He is willing to do the dirty work. He’ll do whatever for this team. That hits me right in my heart because that’s the kind of guy I am, so I resonate with that.”
Sims is part of a young receiving corps that has flashed promise at points in 2020. McLaurin, at 25, is the most dangerous pass-catcher of the group. But Sims, Isaiah Wright and Steven Sims — all 24 or younger — back him to create an intriguing room that could blossom into a legitimate force at the disposal of whoever plays quarterback in Washington.
In year one under Rivera and with a 2-6 record — a mark that still has them in the playoff conversation given how mediocre the NFC East is — players will get chances. Cam Sims is just the latest one, with his 110-yard game a possible sign of things to come.
And it all comes back to Sims’ father’s words, reminding him to be prepared for when opportunity calls.
“Cam’s done an amazing job of just staying ready,” Smith said. “He does it every day in practice. The guy just works incredibly hard. He’s really talented. I think he’s been getting more and more opportunities, and rightfully so.”
• Andy Kostka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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