Givens making his mark stretching the field ..
Givens making his mark stretching the field
By Jim Thomas
Although he has only 13 receptions, Chris Givens ranks fourth in receptions yards among NFL rookie wideouts.
In the locker room and on the practice field at Rams Park, Chris Givens answers to “CG” (his initials) or “One-Three” (his jersey number being 13).
But when you’re in the company of an Olympic-caliber sprinter who is a wide receiver in the NFL, perhaps something more dramatic is in order for a nickname. Former Dallas Cowboys great Bob Hayes — once the world’s fastest man — was “Bullet” Bob. Around these parts, former Rams great Torry Holt was and will forever be known as “Big Game.”
That does, however, leave “Big Play” open for Givens, the rookie wide receiver from Wake Forest. Midway through this season, he has brought that long-missing element back to the St. Louis offense.
It started with a 52-yard grab Sept. 30 against Seattle. Four days later came a 51-yard touchdown catch against Arizona. Then a 65-yarder in Miami on Oct. 14, a 56-yarder Oct. 21 against Green Bay, and a 50-yard TD in London against New England.
Along the way, Givens broke Willie Gault’s NFL rookie record for most consecutive games with at least one catch of 50 yards-plus, which was set in 1983.
Givens admits that until recently, he’d never heard of Gault, who would’ve been on the United States Olympic track team as a sprinter were it not for the 1980 Olympics boycott.
“But when I got close to his record, some of the coaches and players that knew about him started talking to me about him,” Givens said.
Gault, the former Chicago Bear (and former teammate of Rams coach Jeff Fisher), did make the Winter Olympics as a member of the U.S. bobsledding team.
Givens broke Gault’s rookie record in the 45-7 drubbing by New England but couldn’t celebrate too much given the magnitude of that loss.
“It means a lot,” he said in the Wembley Stadium locker room after that game. “It’s definitely something I can smile about. Just not today, being that we lost. I’m not a big stat guy anyway. I’m just going to keep working, trying to get these ‘Ws.’ ”
In the midst of a three-game losing streak, the Rams haven’t had a “W” since Oct. 4, against Arizona. But Givens’ hard work helped him get off the bench and into the lineup relatively quickly.
“I think that’s what separates the guys that make the jump quickly, and the guys that it takes a little while,” Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. “You have to spend the time getting on the same page as the quarterback, and there’s only one way to do that.”
And that’s what Givens has done, working early and late with quarterback Sam Bradford to help develop their timing and develop a chemistry.
“Sometimes it’s certain plays, sometimes it’s general stuff,” Givens said. “Whatever we feel like we need to get more reps on. I feel like the chemistry’s still developing. It’s getting there, and it’s getting better and better.”
The best illustration of that, Schottenheimer said, was the catch and throw for a TD against the Patriots.
“Chris was barely out of his break; Sam was throwing it to a spot,” Schottenheimer said. “It’s an almost subconscious feeling that you have between one another. A trust where Sam just kind of threw it out there and Chris was kind of doubled and he split the two safeties. I think that’s the best example of them being on the same page and feeling what each other’s doing — almost anticipating it before it happens.”
Coaches are constantly looking for more from their players, but Fisher has few complaints about Givens’ development so far.
“Well, he’s got 13 catches and five are over 50 yards,” Fisher said. “So, I would say he’s that deep threat that we drafted him to be. I’d like to see him be more active in the other things, but still he’s a threat. I think, obviously, people understand he’s got the speed and Sam’s got the arm to make the big play.”
Because of those big plays, Givens is averaging 25.6 yards a catch, an off-the-charts number in a league in which generally anything above 15 yards a catch is considered very good.
Givens was the 14th wide receiver taken in the draft last April, and only two of the wideouts selected before him — Tennessee first-rounder Kendall Wright (381) and Indianapolis third-rounder Ty Hilton (355) — have more receiving yards than Givens’ 333.
That speaks to the impact of Givens’ 13 catches. He has done so despite being bothered by a nagging toe issue, an injury that kept him out of the New England game for most of the first half following his TD catch.
“... I’m the type of guy, I don’t like to miss any snaps,” he said after that game.
Givens has been getting starter’s snaps since the Seattle game in Week 4, which marked the start of his big-play spree, and that kind of playing time figures to continue.
“He’s only just kind of touching the surface,” Schottenheimer said. “Now that we have such a good feel for him and what he’s doing, we obviously want to get him more involved, get him more touches.”
Along the way, Givens also needs to dig deeper into the NFL history books.
Because he’s now one of only two players in the Super Bowl era to record a 50-yard catch in five consecutive games — the other being Detroit’s Pat Studstill, in 1966.
Re: Givens making his mark stretching the field ..
It's mind boggling to me how Richardson and Givens are making an impact while Pead and Quick are still trying to figure it out. Imagine how our offense would be if all 4 of these guys can get their respective acts together.