Published November 14, 2012
ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Rams rookies Janoris Jenkins and Chris Givens are back on the field, and eager to produce after serving one-game suspensions.
Coach Jeff Fisher said after practice Wednesday that both would play Sunday against the New York Jets, but didn't say whether they'd be starting. They were suspended for violating undisclosed team rules, and neither player said he was surprised by the punishment.
"I made a mistake and coach did the right thing by disciplining me, and I can't question how he did it," Givens said. "I just take it how it comes and move forward, learn from it."
"Nothing I can do about it, I put myself in that situation," Jenkins said.
Teammates weren't too hard on the youngsters.
Quarterback Sam Bradford said Givens would have been a big part of the game plan for Sunday's overtime tie at San Francisco, but said disappointed was a better word than upset. He spoke with Givens after practice and thought the team wouldn't have further issues with either player.
"I don't know if they have to earn back respect," Bradford said. "I think the big thing is showing everyone they're going to be accountable. Obviously, those are two of our key guys and when they're not in the lineup we're not as good as we could be."
Cornerback Cortland Finnegan, whose locker is next to Jenkins, has served as a mentor for the rookie. He referred to the suspension as a "minor hiccup."
"You know what, we're all human, we all make mistakes," Finnegan said. "He's a great kid, he's done everything we've asked him to do on and off the field. We're still standing behind him. I love him, I told him that first and foremost."
Givens, a wide receiver who was a fourth-round pick, is the first rookie in NFL history with a 50-yard reception in five consecutive games. He started four games at wide receiver while Danny Amendola was out with a collarbone injury, but Amendola returned last week with 11 catches for 102 yards.
"Everyone was upset and everyone was understanding at the same time," Givens said. "I'm young, I make mistakes. But it's up to me to grow up early, grow up fast."
Jenkins, a cornerback who was a second-round pick, started the first nine games and has been erratic with a collection of big stops and blown coverages. He's sixth on the team with 46 tackles to go with an interception and 11 passes defensed.
He said it was tough watching from the sideline in San Francisco as fellow rookie Trumaine Johnson got his first start and can't wait to play again.
"I felt terrible," Jenkins said. "It was eating me up in my stomach the whole game. If I can get out there Sunday, I'll be ready."
Givens has a 25.6-yard average and two touchdowns on 13 catches. All season he's been running ahead of second-round pick Brian Quick, who caught his first touchdown pass of the year last week but was on the field for just seven plays.
Quick said it's been tougher than anticipated making the jump from Appalachian State, a smaller school, to the NFL.
"I wish I would have known more," Quick said. "But I couldn't help where I came from and it's about where I am right now. And I'm willing to get better."
Another second-round pick, running back Isaiah Pead, also has gotten extremely limited playing time after getting beat out by Daryl Richardson, the next-to-last pick of the draft, in training camp. Pead was on the field for just four snaps Sunday and lost a fumble on a kickoff that led to a 49ers touchdown the next play.
"I felt like I was down, but the refs and video said otherwise," Pead said. "It's very frustrating. But at the same time, all you can do is continue to come to work every day and wait for that moment. And if it never comes, then you just learn from riding in the back seat."
Fisher showed confidence in Pead by putting him right back on the field for the next kickoff.
"You always want to redeem yourself," Pead said. "You don't mean to mess up, you don't mean to fumble."