Chris Givens has recently been listed as a starter on the Baltimore Ravens depth chart. An injury to Steve Smith Sr. created a void at starting wide receiver.
Givens has worked hard to get up to speed with Joe Flacco and the offensive scheme. He provides a vertical element that has been missing from the Ravens offense. Givens is coming off of two consecutive games in which he has a reception of 30 yards or more. Simply posing a deep threat is something that Flacco feels is a necessity.
“It’s not always about throwing it [deep passes], but when you have a guy that can do it and you can at least take those chances,” Flacco said. “I think it definitely helps you out as a football team. He’s definitely going to give us that availability, and teams are going to have to focus on him a little bit just in case that we do that.”
The timing between Givens and Flacco is coming along and will show on the field soon. Offensive coordinator, Marc Trestman said the two have been “working diligently” before and during practice. Trestman also said they are communicating well. The quarterback/receiver relationship is steadily improving with time.
Givens said he doesn’t look at having a big role in filling the void left by Smith Sr.’s injury as a challenge. Rather, he views it as an opportunity for the whole receiver group to make a name for themselves.
“It’s exciting because it’s what you want. You don’t want to play receiver and not get any targets,” Givens said. “The fact that we’re all going to get targets and opportunities, everybody should be excited. And everybody should do everything they need to do to make sure they’re ready to make the most of that opportunity on Sunday.”
There haven’t been many opportunities for Givens, but he has taken advantage of them when they have come his way. Givens has caught seven of the 11 targets that where directed towards him. He is averaging 16.1 yards per catch.
One of those targets was a near touchdown on a post route against the Arizona Cardinals. Flacco slightly underthrew Givens which allowed the Cardinals defensive back to break up the pass.
The Ravens will primarily line Givens up over top of the numbers to try and allow him to face single coverage. Defensive backs know that Givens is a burner, so they are likely to play with more of a cushion against him. Double moves on the outside can help Givens eat up the cushion and get behind defensive backs that play so far off the ball against him.
There is more to Givens than just making deep catches. He will see more targets across the middle in the intermediate passing game. Trestman pointed out how he has made some catches in traffic earlier in the season.
The Ravens offense lost a sparkplug when Smith Sr. was injured. Givens said he used to watch a lot of YouTube highlights of Smith Sr. when he first moved to receive at Wake Forrest. He said that their games are similar.
“His [Smith Sr.’s] game is similar to mine,” Givens said. “His attitude and demeanor on the field is what I try to do.” The “attitude and demeanor” doesn’t include celebrating after a big play like Smith Sr. does, even though it fires up the team. Flacco said the other players on offense see that Givens makes plays whenever he is in the game and the guys react well to that.
Givens has a quiet confidence and internal fire. He said he doesn’t celebrate big plays or catches when he makes them because he feels that is what he is supposed to do. All of the negative talk about the remaining receivers on the Ravens roster is motivation for Givens.
He said it gives him a chip on his shoulder and makes him want to prove the doubters wrong. Now that he is a starter, he will get his share of opportunities to do so.