Cardinals quarterback Phillip Sims throws a pass during minicamp.
Phillip Sims has worn glasses since high school, at least to drive and "see things far off," so it wasn't like the quarterback was unaware that his vision wasn't perfect.
But during a recent team physical before minicamp, the undrafted rookie quarterback found out exactly what that meant.
"The doctor actually said, 'It's amazing that you're here, with your eyesight that bad and playing quarterback on top of it,' " Sims said with a smile.
In one eye, Sims sees at 20/50 – meaning what people with perfect vision can see at 50 feet Sims needs to be only 20 feet away
to see. In his other eye, Sims' vision is 20/100. It's not ideal for anyone, and certainly not for a professional athlete whose job includes trying to fit passes into tight windows.
Sims, signed only after attending rookie minicamp on a tryout basis, is battling with incumbent Logan Thomas and Chandler Harnish for the team's third quarterback job. Thomas had been the heavy favorite to be the choice behind and Drew Stanton, but Sims got plenty of reps during offseason work -- more than expected -- and the duel going into training camp will be one to watch.
At the end of minicamp, coach Bruce Arians acknowledged he was "not really pleased" with any of the three.
"They've all got to step it up for us to have a third quarterback," Arians said.
Perhaps better vision will help Sims' quest. In college, Sims began his career at Alabama, but after getting beat out by A.J. McCarron ended up transferring to Virginia. He later transferred to Winston-Salem State. Sims said his eyesight has not been a significant issue during his football career.
"I mean, I can see people, I can see colors," Sims said. "It's just stuff that's real far off, like if I was looking at the scoreboard at the other end of the field. Sometimes it gets a little blurry. Other than that, I haven't really thought about it – maybe because I've been dealing with it for a long time so I don't really pay attention to it."
Now he is. It's an example of why pre-minicamp physicals are important. In a much more intense example for the Cardinals in 2009, defensive lineman Kenny Iwebema – thinking he was just going to have a routine checkup – found out he had a baseball-sized tumor in his chest. Iwebema quickly had surgery to remove the benign tumor, and was able to return for training camp.
Sims is expecting to get corrective lenses before the rookie workouts end this week. The idea is for Sims to get comfortable with his new world before training camp actually starts and the speed of the game comes back into play.
"The doctor was like, 'Two things can happen: You can do the corrective lenses and it can make you that much better, or it can freak you out because you're not used to seeing so much stuff,' " Sims said, again grinning. "They want to test me out to see how I respond to it."
The Cardinals' rookies take part in the first day of rookie minicamp