Rob Sims doesn't make a lot of headlines, but he's been a rock at guard for the Lions since he joined the team in 2010.
In the midst of his fifth professional training camp, Sims still gets invigorated by the first day of contact.
"Always, I mean even since pee-wee," said Sims. "First day of hitting is a good day - good day to go out there and mix it up and see where you really are."
Sims, acquired from Seattle after the 2009 season, has solidified the guard position during his two seasons as a Lion. He's played in 33 straight games, including last year's playoff loss to New Orleans.
He's a well-established starter, a go-to guy in the locker room and an understated leader of the team.
At times, he has to keep the young guys in check, particularly when they get a little over-excited about the first practice with full pads on.
"Some of those guys, they get pumped up about doing it, but you just got to put them in their place, quick," said Sims.
The plan entering training camp is that the offensive line will remain intact for the third straight season, featuring Dominic Raiola at center, Sims and Stephen Peterman at guard and Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherilus at tackle.
Riley Reiff, this year's first-round draft choice, has been getting more time at tackle since Jeff Backus suffered a thumb injury during Saturday's practce. Corey Hilliard and Jason Fox have been alternating first team reps at left tackle with Backus sidelined.
"We've gotten a good start," said Sims. "That's all it is, just a start. We've still got some more work to do when we get to the games. Team-wise, we've picked up right where we left off last year in the OTAs so I know we're happy in the locker room and we hope coach is happy, too."
While continuity on the offensive line is important to a team's success moving the ball, there's no question the Lions offense has blossomed with the maturation of Matthew Stafford under center.
Sims has witnessed Stafford's growth first-hand, both on and off the field.
"You just have to go back to last year for that," said Sims. "Every single game it seemed like he was getting more confident. When he would speak to the team on Friday night he was just more confident.
"It stopped being about x's and o's and started being about going out there and playing together as a team. He's just picked up right from there. It's amazing. He's going to be a good player in this league and he's going to be a good player for years to come."
Sims remains an under-the-radar, reliable force on the unit charged with keeping Stafford upright and keeping the offensive expectations high.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Latest Lions Headlines
He's an NFL wide receiver, a fan favorite and now, Nate Burleson can add 'Emmy nominee' to his name. He picked up a nomination for his work on WXYZ's Ford Lions Report Live. INSIDE: Watch the segment.
The Lions have escaped from the problem that is Titus Young, but Titus Young can't seem to escape trouble. The former Lions wide receiver was arrested for the third time in a week, according to reports.
Top Sports Headlines
Damien Brunner and Brendan Smith scored in the second period and the Detroit Red Wings beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 Saturday in Game 2 to even their Western Conference semifinal series.
Miguel Cabrera went 3 for 4 with a go-ahead double in the sixth inning to back Rick Porcello and lift the Detroit Tigers over the Texas Rangers 2-1 Friday night in a matchup of division leaders.
As Detroit gets ready for Game 2 of its Western Conference semifinals against Chicago, we have found someone who might just be the No. 1 Red Wings fan in Detroit.
Geovany Soto ended Justin Verlander's night with a three-run homer that capped a seven-run third, and Yu Darvish lasted eight innings even though an anticipated pitching duel fizzled in the Texas Rangers' 10-4 victory against Detroit on Thursday.