T-Birds in the NFL: Week 11

As the season marches on, take a look at the Thunderbirds on NFL rosters:

LeShaun Sims – CB, Tennessee Titans

Sims continues to play consistently on special teams, but has yet to see time at cornerback on defense.

He continues to backup Malcolm Butler, but is also competing for playing time behind Adoree’ Jackson and nickel cornerback Logan Ryan.

Sims has been able to pick up small stats during the Titans two-game win streak over the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots, recording a solo tackle against Dallas and an assisted tackle against New England.

Sims now has six total tackles on the season, three solo and three assisted.

With the Titans now on a winning streak after a tough four games, it may be even harder for Sims to see any playing time on defense, with him only seeing about seven percent of the Titans’ defensive snaps, according to pro-football-reference.com. If Sims is hoping to stay on the Titans next year, with his contract up after the 2019 season, he will need to provide a spark on special teams. Sims is currently on the field for over 67 percent of the Titans’ special team plays, which is third on the team.

Miles Killebrew – LB/DB, Detroit Lions

Killebrew, the only other T-Bird on an official 53-man NFL roster, continues to serve as the backup to Lions’ starting free safety Glover Quin, according to detroitlions.com.

Killebrew has struggled to find playing time for new head coach Matt Patricia, as he has yet to record a snap on the defensive side of the ball. However, Killebrew has found a consistent role on the special teams unit, recording 190 snaps over the 11 week season. That number leads the Lions in number of snaps and percentage of special team snaps at 76 percent.

While playing on special teams, Killebrew picked up another tackle in the Lions’ 9-24 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 9. On the season, Killebrew now has three total tackles, one solo and two assisted.

As the season winds down and injuries pile up, Killebrew’s versatility as a defensive back and linebacker should make it much more likely for him to find the field in the upcoming weeks.

Killebrew’s role has diminished in the Lions’ defense this year and he will need to find a way to keep a steady role. With almost no stats on the special teams unit, Killebrew will be fighting for a roster spot next year, as his contract will be a liability in the 2019 season, when it is set to expire.

James Cowser — LB/DL, Free Agent

Cowser has had an interesting couple of weeks. On October 30, the Raiders signed Cowser to the 53-man roster after defensive back Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie retired.

However, the return to active roster status did not last long for Cowser. On November 6, the same day the club waived defensive end Bruce Irvin, they also waived Cowser, putting him back on the practice squad. To make matters worse, the Raiders cut Cowser from the practice squad on November 13, sending the FCS career sack leader back into full on free agency.

Cowser will now need to find another team to pick up his services, seeing as Jon Gruden cannot make up a consistent defense. Cowser has played his entire career in Oakland and was recently an NFL ambassador to China.

Other T-Birds yet to sign with an NFL team: (per nfl.com)

Raysean Pringle, DB — last played for the Raiders’ practice squad in the preseason.

Josh Thornton, DB — last played for the Houston Texans practice squad in the 2017 season.

Mike Needham, LB — last played on the Minnesota Vikings active roster in the preseason, but was waived on the final day of cuts.

Story by: Kurt Meacham
Photo by: SUU Athletics Strategic Communication