Jeff Backus announced his retirement from the Detroit Lions and the NFL Thursday afternoon.

Left guard Rob Sims has lined up next to Backus in every game but one each of the past three seasons. Together, the pair made up the left side of the Lions' offensive line since 2010.

"The cool thing about Jeff is that he was old school," Sims said in a phone interview shortly after the announcement. "Everything he did was by the book. It's kind of cliché, but he'd be the first one to work and the last one to leave.

"I wish I could have played with him when he was a little younger because we really would have done something special."

Instead, Sims will be playing next to a new left tackle next season - along with a new right guard after the release of Stephen Peterman and a different right tackle with Gosder Cherilus signing with the Colts in free agency.

"It's definitely going to be different," he said. "Us being all veterans, it was very easy for us to speak in a certain language on the field and in the meeting room on what we were going to do and how we were going to go about doing it. It was nice having that kind of experience in the room."