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The St. Louis Rams, Chris Givens & The Deep Ball

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July 27, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams wide receiver Chris Givens (13) carries the ball during training camp at ContinuityX Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE
July 27, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams wide receiver Chris Givens (13) carries the ball during training camp at ContinuityX Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE

St. Louis Rams speedster Chris Givens continues to get plenty of preseason praise for his work. Jeff Fisher talked about the former Wake Forest (Speed) Demon Deacon after Wednesday's practice, and Jim Thomas has a profile of the field stretching receiver in the PD.

"He's got the legs and the deep threat and he can get down the field," Fisher said. "I think he's a little tired right now. He'll get his legs back and I think he'll probably be even more productive for us."

Ray Sherman, the receivers coach, echoed that sentiment in the PD article.

"He can get deep," Sherman said. "He's got that kind of speed. When people see that on tape, see that he's able to run like that, then they're going to respect him. It helps everybody else because you know he can do that."

The last time the Rams had a receiver capable of stretching the field was when they drafted Donnie Avery in the second round in 2008, ahead of DeSean Jackson. Injuries took a heavy toll on Avery and he never contributed much after topping 600 yards in his rookie season.

Few Rams wide receivers since Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce left have threatened defenses, especially on the back end of those defenses.

The Rams had just 37 passing plays of 20 yards or more last season. Only three teams had fewer. They had just three passing plays of 40 yards or more, the lowest mark in the league. It was the same in 2010 when the Rams had 36 passing plays of 20 yards or more and four for 40+ yards. Both ranked among the bottom three teams in the league.

Givens' value is obvious: expanding the field and opening things up so the running backs and the short passing game can be more productive. That's the idea. First, the Rams need to give defensive coordinators something to worry about when they watch the tape.

Right now, those deep balls are struggling to get there because they are not on target. Pass protection factors into this as well. Quarterback Sam Bradford had two five-step drops in Sunday's opener against the Colts. Both times he was under heavy pressure.

Givens is likely to see more time with Bradford and the first team in the weeks ahead. How well they execute the deep plays will reveal much about the Rams' offense this season.