They say you can’t teach speed. Chris Givens is proving that you can’t very easily defend against it, either.
Givens, the St. Louis Rams rookie wide receiver, has five straight games with a catch of at least 50 yards after burning the New England Patriots for a 50-yard touchdown on the fifth play from scrimmage Sunday. He’s averaging 25.6 yards per catch through the first eight games.
The big-play element is what the Rams were hoping for when they drafted Givens with the first pick of the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Givens was a dynamic player at Wake Forest, breaking Ricky Proehl’s school record for receiving yards in a season during his junior year and leading the Demon Deacons in all-purpose yards for three straight seasons.
If there was a knock on Givens it was concern about his knees. Givens tore both his right and left ACL in high school but was still able to set records at Wake Forest. Aside from his tremendous speed – Givens ran a 4.23 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine – it’s his work ethic that has helped him make such a quick impression as a pro.
“I love him because he’s a guy that at practice, after practice, he always wants to throw,” QB Sam Bradford said. “He comes and gets me and he’s like, ‘Hey, I’ve got this, this and this. Let’s get these after practice.’ If it’s not right, he stays until we get it right. We’ve spent a lot of time together and I think that’s one of the reasons that we’ve developed the chemistry that we have.”
The chemistry has resulted in a lot of explosive plays for the Rams in the earlygoing. Givens has just 13 catches on the year but has racked up 333 yards and two touchdowns.
Although he’s still primarily a deep threat, Givens has become a more integral part of the offense in recent weeks. After registering no catches in his first two games and only catching four passes through his first five games, Givens has been targeted more often in the past three games. Givens has nine catches for 221 yards since week six.
“He works really hard at it,” offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. “He gets a lot of the deep routes. He gets put in some positions, but I think it’s develop through time on task. It’s develop out here on the grass, in the meeting rooms. Obviously, he’s an explosive player and a guy we’re thrilled to watch develop. He’s coming at a fast speed when he’s playing as a player as well.”
Givens’ development came at a good time for the Rams. With fellow rookie WR Brian Quick struggling to get on the field and WR Danny Amendola, Bradford’s favorite target, still out with a clavicle injury, Givens has become one of Bradford’s go-to receivers.
“He’s got tremendous speed,” Bradford said. “He’s a great route runner. He’s just got a feel for finding holes, getting behind people.”
Speed kills. To opposing defenses, Givens’ skillset is bordering on…deadly.