Givens Earning Expanded Role

Posted Sep 27, 2012

Rookie receiver Chris Givens doesn’t even have a touchdown in the NFL yet in his first three games but judging by the attention he draws anytime he’s on the field, you’d think he has 10.

“I have noticed it, really ever since the first preseason game in Indy,” Givens said. “Everyone is trying to respect me for me speed but that’s part of the game and what’s going to happen.”

Of course, that attention is only going to manifest itself further as Givens has continued to increase his role in the offense each week of his young career. After limited reps in the opener against Detroit and quite a few more snaps in week 2 against Washington, Givens made his first career start against Chicago last week and though he got fewer chances against the Bears, it’s still evident that his role is increasing every week.

Givens’ increased work is a direct result of the fact that he’s getting comfortable in the playbook and with quarterback Sam Bradford, allowing him to do more than just line up and run deep.

“He’s doing great,” offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. “Obviously when he’s on the field, defensive coordinators take notice because he’s so fast. He’s got that speed and he’s really studied the playbook. He’s got a good feel for it. We are able to move him around a little bit now which makes it easier to get him involved. We can put him in multiple spots and not maybe always just take one guy off for him.”

Givens notched his first two career catches last week for just 9 yards but it was worth noting the Rams weren’t just looking for him on go routes. He caught a smoke screen in the flat and was a missed block from turning it into a big gain.

As Givens settles in further, the Rams can continue to use him in a variety of ways.

“I am pretty comfortable with everything,” Givens said. “Just being a rookie, you are going to get more and more comfortable each week but as far as knowing my responsibilities and knowing the defense, the coaches do a really good job of getting me prepared.”

One part of the adjustment for Givens has been working on a more consistent basis with Bradford. As part of the second and third team offenses in the preseason, he didn’t get many practice reps with Bradford throwing to him.

To help play catch up, Givens and Bradford have been spending extra time after practice to try to get their timing down. Considering Givens’ home run speed, that can take a little longer.

“We are working each week, every day just to get more and more reps together and talking more and getting more comfortable with what he expects and then how I do different things,” Givens said. 

For his part, Bradford is pleased with how Givens is coming along and expected great things from the fourth-round pick in the coming weeks.

“I think Givens is a guy who we’ve tried to get involved more and more each week,” Bradford said.  “I think he’s improved each week. He’s gotten more comfortable with the role that has been given to him. I would imagine in our game plan this week, he will probably see even more action than he has the previous three weeks.”

As for the attention he draws from defenses, the odds of a big play from Givens only increase with every additional play he is on the field. He and Bradford just missed a connection on a long ball in week 1 and again last week in Chicago.

It seems to be just a matter of time.

“It’s going to come,” Givens said. “I have just got to keep working, being patient and do what the coaches ask of me until my number is called. It’s definitely coming. It’s coming soon.”

And Givens may not be the only one it’s coming for, according to Schottenheimer. When asked about Givens on Thursday, Schottenheimer acknowledged that there are other youngsters in the offense champing at the bit.

“We have got some really talented young players and we need to play them,” Schottenheimer said. “They need to play and that’s how you develop them. It’s not from sitting on the bench and so I think you’ll see us sprinkle in some more guys as we get going here.”

JACKSON STAYING PATIENT: Rams running back Steven Jackson did not practice again Thursday after sitting out all of last week’s practices and Wednesday of this week.

But Jackson said that is part of the plan in trying to get him back from a groin injury that has slowed him down the past two weeks.

“We are making sure that we are maximizing out time between games,” Jackson said. “Hopefully I can get out there on the practice field tomorrow but if not, I have been doing a good job of getting my mental reps and doing a lot of film study.”

Jackson said after playing through the injury last week that he didn’t believe there was any further damage caused by playing. He maintained that same idea the past four days.

“No setbacks,” Jackson said. “The soft tissue muscles are one of those things that are just nagging until finally they just go away. I have some discomfort and some things I have to deal with throughout the game but it’s not anything that has set me back.”

As for whether or not the injury will completely heal during the season, Jackson isn’t sure but he’s also not concerned about it.

“No one is 100 percent healthy at this point,” Jackson said. “Once the season starts rolling, we all have to deal with things throughout the season. It’s unfortunate mine came early but hopefully I can get this out of the way and finish strong.”

Jackson is confident he’ll be able to play again this week though if he doesn’t practice Friday envisions another pregame workout determining his fate much as it did last week.

INJURY REPORT: The Rams only had one slight change to the injury report on Thursday as defensive end Eugene Sims returned to the practice field after an illness kept him out Wednesday.

Sims was officially listed as a full participant which was accurate considering he had enough energy to take part in a scuffle with tackle Ty Nsekhe.

The rest of the injury report remained the same with tackle Wayne Hunter (knee) and defensive tackle Michael Brockers (ankle) as limited participants. Both are expected to be ready to go this weekend.

Tackle Rodger Saffold (knee), defensive tackle Matt Conrath (knee), safety Matt Daniels (hamstring) and Jackson did not participate.