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August 7, 2012James Sims will miss the first three game of the year. But when the running back returns he will likely find a spot quickly in the rotation. On Tuesday Charlie Weis met with the media and said Sims has impressed him.
"Right now, if I had to pick the most complete running back on our team, I would pick James," Weis said. "I think he responded pretty well. I think James is even better than I thought he was. He just unfortunately can't play right now. He can run inside, he can run outside. People told me he couldn't run outside, they were wrong, he can. He has another gear, people told me he doesn't have another gear, he does."
Several players have benefitted from a strong, off-season program under Scott Holsopple and his staff. Weis believes Sims is another one of those players that looks better after dropping weight.
"It might be because he is down 10 pounds," Weis said. "That might have something to do with it. It might be because he is in great shape. I am a big fan of James now, he has a lot of natural running ability and he is not afraid to pick up the blitz."
Weis said Anthony Pierson is his own entity right now mainly in part because he can do things some of the other backs can't. Going into week four Sims will add another dimension to the backfield when he returns.
"Remember James (Sims) is just waiting in the wings for three weeks," Weis said. "Let's not forget I have given James plenty of reps in this training camp because James is going to be eligible three weeks in."
Running backs coach Reggie Mitchell has coached Sims the last two years. He has been surprised by the way Sims has started off fall camp.
"James has been better than I thought he would be," Mitchell said. "I've coached him for two years, but he is a different guy. It's night and day from the Missouri game last year to where he's at now. He's lost weight; he's probably down to 195 pounds. He looks faster, he's shown ability to make people miss and he's had a good attitude this fall. He's shown a lot of improvement."
Healthy competition going on
Weis wants to watch the number of carries Pierson gets during a game. Although Pierson has put on five pounds of muscle there will be a limit to what kind of workload he will have. For the first three games it will likely be a mix of Pierson, Taylor Cox, and Brandon Bourbon.
Bourbon is finally back healthy and he has been a welcome addition.
"You don't see any of the injury things that are popping up, but he is a little rusty because he hasn't played since the Iowa State game," Mitchell said. "He didn't go through spring (practice). Every day you see him getting better and better."
Jackson showing improvement
Marquis Jackson was one of the standouts at the spring game after he was moved from wide receiver to running back. Jackson is continuing to learn and battle at a position where depth is a strength.
"Marquis has progressed pretty well," Mitchell said. "We moved him midway through spring. He had a pretty good spring game and this fall he's coming on. The hard thing for Marquis is that we have those other guys, because there are only so many carries that you're going to get."