By STL Staff on August 2nd, 2013 @ 3:27pm

When the St. Louis Rams selected Wake Forest wide receiver Chris Givens in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL draft, I wrote that the former track star would prove to be one of the rookie class’ biggest steals. Fortunately for the Rams, Givens and me, it’s been a so-far-so-good prognostication thus far.

A season ago, Givens finished sixth among all wideouts with a 16.6 yard per catch average while utilizing his elite 4.3 speed to set a new rookie record with five consecutive games of at least one fifty yard reception. On the campaign, Givens compiled 42 receptions and three touchdowns, making him one of the league’s most productive first-year pass-catchers.

In preparing for the 2013 season, Givens did everything he could to diversify, expand and optimize his game.

“I took it upon myself this offseason to really study my game and just work on the little things that I necessarily wouldn’t have ever done before,” Givens said. “You can see it paying off thus far and it’s just something that I really wanted to work on as far as getting in and out of my breaks better, making tough catches, getting my route depth and just being in the right spots at the right times.”

“I’m just trying to be more multi-dimensional,” Givens added. “Last year I was kind of just known as a deep guy and with me taking a lot of pride in what I do, I didn’t necessarily like that. So, I took it upon myself to work on all the little things so at the end of this year people would be saying a lot of different things.”

When Givens talks about doing “a lot of different things,” it’s not just empty chatter. Givens — who grew up playing running back — views himself as much more than a receiver. Givens instead sees himself as a football player, period.

“I don’t really like to call myself a wide receiver,” Givens said. “I like to use the term football player just because I feel like I can do a number of things on the field as far as blocking, running the ball and catching the ball. It’s just working on those little things and staying consistent so the offensive staff can have confidence in me.”

Through the first week of camp, it would appear that all of Givens’ work has paid off quite nicely. On frequent occasions, Givens has made impressive plays on short, intermediate and deep passes alike.

Thursday — in what has become of camp’s most intense one-on-one battles — Givens went up against cornerback Janoris Jenkins and made outstanding grabs against the prized defender on at least three occasions.

In discussing his second year receiver’s progress, head coach Jeff Fisher reiterated Givens’ thoughts on his ever-advancing game.

“He’s really had a good offseason,” Fisher said. “He was here and he was very, very motivated and focused. You can see he’s much more familiar with our offense now… I’m pleased with his production so far.”

Of course, it’s not just Givens whose production will be critical this fall, but the entire corps of tight ends and receivers who must — as a whole — produce beyond that of a season ago.
In Givens estimation, they are ready to step up.

“We’re a lot more explosive just because of the speed we added in the offseason with (Jared) Cook, Tavon (Austin), Stedman (Bailey) and with the guys coming back, me and Quickie (Brian Quick) and AP (Austin Pettis), were just more mature and ready to handle the load,” Givens said. “We’re more of a unit than we were last year and we just came together and took it upon ourselves to put the growth of the offense and the success of our offense on our shoulders.”

The receiver unit is one that possesses formidable speed, some of the best in the entire league. According to offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, it is probably the fastest group he’s been around to date.

“We had a team back with the Jets that was pretty fast with Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards and those guys, but this is probably the fastest unit I’ve been around,” Schottenheimer said. “The thing that’s been fun is you not only have a fast group but a group that is really buying into the details, the angle of the releases, the splits, stuff like that. A good passing game is one that’s detail oriented. These guys have done a good job of that.”

Pass that Kool-aid !!!!