NASHVILLE ,Tenn. — LeShaun Sims was thrown into the fire during his rookie season.
The experience should help the Titans cornerback moving forward.
"He is one of our promising young players,'' Titans defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said of Sims. "I think he has a bright future ahead of him."
A fifth-round pick out of Southern Utah, Sims played in 13 games for the Titans in 2016, with two starts.
Sims stepped into a much bigger role in the last month of the season, after the team parted ways with veteran cornerback Perrish Cox. After struggling late in a game against the Bears in late November, Sims settled down in the final month of the season. Pro Football Focus listed Sims as the team's highest graded player against Kansas City on December 18. Sims intercepted Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith in the end zone in that contest.
Sims tallied 16 tackles and six passes defensed in the final six games of the year. He played primarily on special teams at the start of the season, and was inactive the first three games of the season.
Sims credited some of his veteran teammates, including safety Rashad Johnson, for helping him late in the season.
"He helped me out a lot, and helped me be more prepared,'' Sims said of Johnson. "He showed me a whole new way of breaking things down in the film room and it helped me on the practice field. It helped me get better."
Sims said his performance at the end of the season helped him from a confidence standpoint.
"Going against the caliber of receivers we faced, it definitely helped me,'' Sims said. "I know I just have to keep working and keep getting better."
The Titans could see plenty of change in the secondary in 2017. While Jason McCourty and Brice McCain remain under contract, Valentino Blake has an expiring deal. Kalan Reed, a seventh-round draft pick in 2016, and D'Joun Smith were promoted to the roster late in the season and the team recently signed Tye Smith to a futures contract.
The draft and free agency will provide more options to consider.
LeBeau said the Titans know they have a talented player in Sims.
"He has good size, and size and speed is a good combination for a corner, and it's the reason the Titans drafted him,'' LeBeau said of Sims. "He displayed that. He's really worked hard, he has a good work ethic. And the veteran corners have helped him a lot."