After catching 42 passes for 698 yards and three touchdowns (539 kick-off return yards to boot), St. Louis Rams rookie wide receiver Chris Givens looked like a good bet to break out in his second year in the league as the team’s vertical threat and top outside receiver with offseason acquisitions Tavon Austin and Jared Cook in the middle to take pressure off of Givens on the outside. That sort of a breakout season didn’t materialize last year, as Givens caught just 34 passes for 569 yards and no touchdowns. He still averaged well over 15 yards per reception and still had his speed, but he was incredibly inconsistent on the outside. The drop-off between Sam Bradford and Kellen Clemens doesn’t really explain his struggles either, because he wasn’t exactly lighting it up before Bradford went down. In fact, he never had five catches in a game outside his five-catch, 105-yard outburst in Week 2.
Givens opened up to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about his struggles last season and his outlook going into the 2014 season. Unsurprisingly, Given is determined to hit the next level, and he’s been speaking to Rams legends Aeneas Williams and Isaac Bruce about getting there. Year three is always a critical campaign for a player, and this is especially true for Givens, given his strong 2012 season and subpar follow-up last season.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Givens has the tools to be an impact player in the Rams offense, and his renewed outlook and a better situation around him will help. Sam Bradford will (hopefully) be healthy and effective in a make-or-break year, Austin can only get better, and Cook is a talented TE. There’s also plenty of urgency for Givens to improve, because the Rams will most likely add a top receiver in this year’s draft class and already took a flier on Kenny Britt this offseason. If Givens doesn’t perform well, then he could fall behind, especially if the Rams draft Mike Evans or Sammy Watkins (as many expect them to).