Position Battle: Givens vs Terrell

Roster battles are nothing new to the New England Patriots. In years past it's been at virtually every position, including the quarterback position. One battle unlikely to sort itself out any time soon one for the role of Tom Brady's number two receiver behind Deion Branch. Both David Givens and David Terrell are fighting for that spot, the question is which David will succeed.

PHOTO: New England Patriots starting quarterback Tom Brady (12) and wide receiver David Givens (87) smile as they chat during practice during Patriots summer camp in Foxboro, Mass., Wednesday afternoon Aug. 10, 2005. WR Jason Anderson is in the background. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

Position Battle: Givens vs Terrell
By Dave Fletcher

David Givens and David Terrell. The overachiever versus the underachiever. Notre Dame versus Michigan. Seventh round draft pick versus first round draft pick. Two wide receivers who seem to be worlds apart suddenly competing for the second spot on the depth chart behind stud Deion Branch.

Excess of talent tends to work itself out one way or another, but the battle between Givens and Terrell for second on the depth chart bears watching during these preseason games. After all, with the offseason addition of the former Chicago Bear, Tom Brady seemingly has more personal favorites to throw to than ever before. Long before Brady was tossing touchdown passes to Givens in Super Bowls, he was connecting for big plays with Terrell as a Wolverine.

With Branch budding into a superstar and Troy Brown, who can still get open from the slot on third and short, Brady is armed with a receiving core which may rival the best the league has to offer. But remember, New England’s offense loves using two tight end sets, so there will be a fair share of first and second down plays where either Givens or Terrell will be the odd man out.

The case for the incumbent Givens is a strong one. His five straight postseason games with a touchdown reception would seem to guarantee him the No. 2 spot, but the Patriots have never been inclined to award playing time based on prior accomplishments. For the 2004 season, Givens led Patriots receivers with 56 catches for 874 yards, filling in valiantly as the number one target for the injured Branch from mid-September to November. He didn’t have a reception that did not result in a first down until Week 11. However, once Branch returned, Givens’ production fell off as he gained just 230 yards over the final 8 games.

Despite the frustrating finish numbers-wise, Givens knows last year is important to build off of. “The longer you play this game the more confidence you get because you’re more comfortable … My confidence is building,” said Givens.

Mirroring the typical Patriots mentality, Givens hasn’t come into camp expecting any quota of passes thrown his way. He knows that he’ll need to prove he can fit into this year’s offense as effectively as he did last year.

“There were times where I could have run better routes [last year],” he said. “[Training camp] is the time to shake off the rustiness.”

Running crisper routes will be especially important for Givens this year with the addition of the 6’3” Terrell, who can use his height to haul in balls in tight coverage. The knock on Terrell is that he has to rely too much on his size to get open because he does not run good routes and isn’t quick enough in crossing patterns. His 2004 numbers were modest -- 42 catches for 699 yards -- but in a much weaker offense with the likes of Rex Grossman, Chad Hutchinson and Craig Krenzel at quarterback. Terrell seemingly disappeared for entire games, however, as he registered two or fewer catches eight times. Whether that was a product of an inept Chicago offense is open to debate.

Rebuilding his collegiate rapport with Brady shouldn’t be a problem for Terrell, who has already meshed in well with his old teammate.

“It's been fun. His locker is right next to mine and that's right where I like it,” said Brady. “We get a chance to communicate every day. He's a big physical target. He made some really nice plays in camp. We picked up where we left off [at Michigan]. It's good to have him back.”

Belichick has also liked what he has seen from Terrell so far during training camp.

“I think there is definitely chemistry there,” Belichick said last week. “We saw that early when David first came to New England and the workouts started ... There was an understanding between those two players probably unlike any other relationship between Tom and another receiver.”

Strong words from the head coach considering how outspoken Brady has been in the past about his close bond with his passing targets.

Terrell hopes he can draw some useful tidbits from playing alongside Brady. ''I try to take as much knowledge from him as I can and put it into my game,” he said. “It's one of those things where I want to get better. I want to try to be a great receiver in this league. So I try to affiliate myself with the great ones.”

By signing with the Patriots, Terrell certainly has surrounded himself with winners. Now, he’s going to need to prove he can be great if he’s going to give Givens a run for his money.


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