A year ago at this time following a successful rookie season, Rams wide receiver Chris Givens described himself as cocky.
But after a sophomore slump in which his receptions and reception yards decreased, and his touchdowns disappeared entirely, Givens says he’s a humbled man entering his third NFL season.
“Oh yeah. Zero touchdowns?” Givens said. “That’s never happened; never happened in my career. That’s something that I look at it now, and I’m like God got my attention with that.”
Givens, a fourth-round pick from Wake Forest in 2012, had a modest three TD catches as a rookie, but he also had a rookie record of five consecutive games with a reception of 50 yards or more. He led the Rams with 698 yards receiving, a total exceeded by only three rookies that season.
But getting skunked in 2013 in terms of TDs, that was unfathomable to the speedy Givens.
“Looking back on it, that would’ve been the only thing to get my attention,” he said. “That’s what had to happen so I could have the focus and dedication and drive that I have now.”
So to say Givens was anxious to get back to Rams Park for Monday’s start of the offseason program would be understatement.
“It’s been the longest offseason of my life,” Givens said. “It’s just a constant reminder every day of what I didn’t accomplish — all because I got in my own way. So I’ve been waiting for this day for the longest (time).”
The proof of course will come in September and beyond, when the regular season starts. But Givens has taken a lot of steps to get his game back on track since the 2013 finale against Seattle when he didn’t have a single catch. He decided that he had to make changes in his life and make football his No. 1 priority.
“When I was young, I felt like I was trying to do too much, please too many people,” he said. “Saying ‘yes’ too much. Being afraid to let my light shine because of how it made someone else feel. So I humbled myself and made football my job. Made it a priority. And I just started writing goals and doing a lot of things.”
Hall of Fame defensive back Aeneas Williams has been a mentor of Givens for some time. After Williams told Givens he reminded him of Isaac Bruce, that led to Givens getting in touch with the former Rams wide receiver great.
“I just talk to Isaac about anything,” Givens said. “If I’m watching film from a game, I’m like, ‘what can I do to beat this?’ He gives me little tips. On how to set goals. Or what was your mentality approaching the offseason? And things like that.”
Givens, who was suspended by coach Jeff Fisher for one game as a rookie, hasn’t always surrounded himself with the best crowd. He spent most of this offseason in the Phoenix area, in part to separate himself from possible distractions.