Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Chris Givens thrived in Danny Amendola's absence, but his return could be just in time to help both receivers against the Vikings.
Chris Givens was key to the St. Louis Rams' offense in two consecutive NFC West wins after Danny Amendola's second injury of the season, and it's hard to say that the rookie didn't benefit from Amendola's absence; he became Sam Bradford's favorite target, and earned some lower-difficulty-level targets to go with the home run swings he'd been getting early in the season. But Amendola's probable Week 15 return against the Minnesota Vikings--he practiced Friday at full speed--won't hurt Givens. In fact, it might be timed perfectly to benefit both receivers.
Because as good as Givens was in Arizona and against San Francisco, last week against Buffalo didn't provide much for his rookie season highlight reel. In 10 targets he caught just three balls for 25 yards, and it was abundantly clear all day that the Bills knew he was the Rams' best option and were devoting resources to shutting him down. (Football Outsiders ranked him the least valuable receiver of Week 14, after ranking him most valuable during his big game against the Cardinals.) In the second half it was Bradford's looks at Brandon Gibson, of all people, that saved the day.
We don't know yet just how healthy Danny Amendola is, but if he's practicing well enough to play a more-than-symbolic role on the offense, the Vikings won't be able to do the same single-minded job of shutting Givens down that the Bills managed. And while I might consider Brandon Gibson a little underrated, I think Amendola will be better equipped to take advantage of the matchups.