Mike Sims-Walker laments shrinking role
It's surely coincidental, but nonetheless frustrating for quarterback David Garrard's go-to guy.
"You always want to be involved in the offense, especially when you think of yourself as a No. 1 receiver in this league," Sims-Walker said Wednesday. "You work hard at it to be that guy and you go out there and you really don't get the opportunity to show it."
Sims-Walker went without a catch in the season opener, a 24-17 victory against Denver, and finished with no receptions in Sunday's 31-28 win over Indianapolis.
He brushed aside the first goose egg as a fluke and even joked about in the post-game locker room. He wasn't nearly as amused after getting left out of the boxscore a second time.
"I've never been a negative guy to try to make a fuss about it," said Sims-Walker, who led the team with 63 catches for 869 yards and seven touchdowns last year. "I'm not going to sit around and cry or anything. But I'm a receiver and I catch the ball. This is a production-based business, and not even getting targeted is frustrating.
"I know I can play. I know I get open. I know I can catch the ball pretty good and make plays. I'd like to be more involved, but I don't make the play calls around here and I don't make the decisions to throw the ball. It's kind of like it's out of my control. I've just got to roll with the punches for right now."
Sims-Walker insisted defenses haven't done anything special to stop him. They haven't put their best cornerback on him and haven't rolled a safety over the top of him. He said there's no reason for his production problems.
Sims-Walker might even make a bigger deal out of it if the Jaguars (2-2) were losing. But, as he pointed out, it's hard to complain when you don't contribute and the team wins.
Regardless, it's getting to him a little bit.
"If it don't get to you, you don't love what you're doing," Sims-Walker said. "It's going to get to you no matter who you are. Even if I was the No. 3 receiver and I didn't get a target, I'd still be mad. You do all that work and you don't get rewarded. But we're winning, so I can't really say much. I've just got to live with it I guess."
Coaches and teammates believe Sims-Walker's shutouts were anomalies and his numbers will pick up, maybe even this Sunday at Buffalo (0-4).
"I want to get the ball to him more because he is a dynamic player and we can't not throw the ball to him," Garrard said. "We've got to be able to make sure he gets catches, just so we can continue to keep his confidence high and so we're giving the ball to one of our better players.
"We're not going to force anything or force the ball to him. There's ways to get him the ball and we've just continue to work at getting him the ball."
Coach Jack Del Rio placed some of the blame on Garrard, saying Sims-Walker was open against the Colts but the quarterback didn't get him the ball.
"We're asking our quarterback to be in rhythm, get rid of the ball, be on time, be decisive," Del Rio said. "Mike was open a couple of times and we didn't hit him. There was an opportunity to do that. But you don't want to stop being in rhythm to go looking for Mike.
"It's a team game. Ultimately, we score 31, we win, we're all happy. There were some opportunities to get Mike involved. He's a good player for us. We want to keep him involved and that's just a coincidence that it went off that way. He's actually played pretty well."
Despite his reception-free games, Sims-Walker has 12 catches for 139 yards and a touchdown this season. Tight end Marcedes Lewis has almost identical numbers (12 for 138 yards and three TDs), while Mike Thomas leads the team (17 for 207 yards) and Tiquan Underwood (4 for 63) has emerged as the deep threat.
Making the situation worse, Sims-Walker has been getting bashed on Twitter. He's heard from opponents, fans and fantasy football owners who clearly expected more.
"That's the worst part of it," Sims-Walker said. "I've never seen this many bitter people in my life. They're calling me everything in the book: 'I'm benching you, you're this, you're that, you're trash.' It kind of hurts a little bit.
"I have no control over it. I wish they could understand. It ain't like I'm out there dropping balls or not getting open. You watch the film. I'm doing everything I can possibly do to put myself in the right position, but it's just not working for me right now."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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