A year ago David Givens was just a week into his NFL career and fighting for his football life. As a seventh-round pick out of a less-than-pass-happy Notre Dame offense, the 6-0, 212-pound receiver was a long-shot for the New England roster.
Now after an up-and-down rookie season and one of the most productive offseasons on the team, he earned one of the parking spaces reserved at Gillette Stadium for the most dedicated offseason workout warriors, Givens has been standing out in training camp and appears to have a good hold a job in the Patriots offense.
"David has had a good offseason and he's had a real good start to training camp," Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick said earlier this week. "I think he's shown up in every phase of the game, special teams, his blocking, and the running game and his route running. He's made plays down the field and made them inside, made them short, has shown quickness to get away from people and the ability to separate down the field. I think he's going to contend. We'll see how it goes, but I think at least now he's put himself in position to contend for some playing time. I mean not just a roster spot, I think he's got a chance to actually get in there and fight for some playing time."
But the improvements in Givens' game didn't just come overnight. Hard work and plenty of extra time with a Jugs machine appears to be paying off.
"In the offseason every day after our workouts I stayed after catching a couple hundred balls on the Jugs machine and I definitely think it paid off," Givens said Friday after practice at Gillette Stadium. "The more reps you get, the better you are at it. I think the offseason workout can really improve any player."
And while he doesn't want to get overconfident or take any spot he may have with the team for granted, Givens is happy with how things have been progressing in his development. Having made a few of the better catches in camp, including a nice out pattern reception from Tom Brady in a hurry up segment on Friday, Givens is still focused on improving every area of his game with the goal of becoming the best all-around receiver that he can.
"It's very early in camp right now and I think personally I have room to improve," Givens said. "I've had a drop or two throughout camp. I think when you don't have any drops, when you are catching every ball, you are not exactly satisfied but that is when you are doing well. But I have had a couple of drops."
Those drops can eat at a receiver, regardless of how many the player has already caught.
"That one does eat at you because I mean that could be the difference between winning and losing a game. I always work for perfection. That's the goal is to be 100-percent in catching and route running. I look at myself as a total receiver. I want to be physical. I am definitely going to be a physical guy. I work on my hands and everything to be able to make the deep balls and catch the short balls, be a possession and big play type receiver. I want to be an all-around type of receiver."
Because of the morning rain, the team held today's two-hour, full-pad session on the single FieldTurf practice field. … The team released wide receiver Scott McCready and cornerback Ben Kelly on Friday. Belichick also said in his press conference that there was a possibility that the team could add a player or two in the near future, although he did not go into specifics. … Following the moves, rookie quarterback Kliff Kingsbury subsequently changed his number to 16, formerly worn by McCready. … Rookie receiver Bethel Johnson returned to practice action. … David Patten has also returned to full practice action. … Newly acquired fullback Larry Centers was not at Gillette Stadium on Friday. Belichick said he was back in Texas taking care of some personal matters that the team was aware of before he signed. … Fullback Fred McCrary has been cleared to return to the field and will return to action for the next scheduled practice on Sunday afternoon. … Joe Andruzzi spent a long portion of the practice time running sprints and appears to be inching closer to a return. … Safety Aric Morris made a nice play to pick off a Tom Brady pass intended for tight end Daniel Graham on a third and long play in the down and distance segment of a practice that focused heavily on situational work. … Tyrone Poole saw a lot of action with the first defensive group as an extra defensive back in passing situations. … Rookie cornerback Asante Samuel picked off a Damon Huard pass that was batted in the air at the line of scrimmage by linebacker Tedy Bruschi in the down and distance work. … The entire team did a bit of conditioning at the end of practice as they ran a series of four sprints the length the artificial turf field. … The players will have a day off to recover on Saturday, as the next practice is scheduled for 2:30 on Sunday afternoon. As always fans looking to attend are urged to check Patriots.com or call 508-543-1776 for any schedule changes, especially in case of inclement weather.