By: Ian Logue/
September 27, 2002

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Patriots defensive end Derek Rivers happy to be healthy
Belichick mum on Brady and Gronk OTA absences
No Brady or Gronk, but plenty of storylines at Patriots OTAs

FOXBORO, MA -- Regardless of whether or not Troy Brown takes the field on Sunday, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is going to need to find someone else to throw to.

Brown is recovering from taking a helmet to the knee during Sunday's 41-38 overtime win over the Chiefs last Sunday, and missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday and in all likelihood won't be in the line-up this weekend against the San Diego Chargers.  Belichick has said all week that if they don't feel a player can go on game day, that player will be left behind.

With the Patriots spread offense that leaves them short one very important wide receiver.  Brown currently has more than double the amount of receptions than the rest of his teammates with 31, with Deion Branch and David Patten tied for 2nd on the team with 15.  He also leads the team in yards (292).

However if Brown is out of the line-up, New England will need someone else to step up and contribute to an offense that spent most of last weekend throwing to #80.  During one drive Brown's number was called five straight times, and after a run by Antowain Smith it was called once again when Brady found him in the endzone for a touchdown which at the time knotted the score at 17-17.  He finished the day with 16-catches for 176-yards and his touchdown.

Needless to say if he's not in the line-up, he'll be missed.

It may provide wide receiver David Givens with his first opportunity of the season.  The former Notre Dame standout beat out Fred Coleman for the fifth and final wide receiver spot, but has spent the first three games on the inactive list.  Givens was fourth on the team in receptions during the preseason (ahead of Brown who had 6), and also 4th in yards with 83 (Brown had 60).  He also caught a 12-yard touchdown pass in the third preseason game against Carolina, and apparently showed enough promise to the coaching staff for them to keep him around.

What role the 6-foot 212-pound receiver will play if any in the offense this weekend remains to be seen.  He currently joins Brown on the injury report as questionable (leg) and it's not known just how severe the injury is.

He showed excellent quickness during the preseason and also looked good during training camp, but an NFL regular season game is obviously a bigger challenge.  He does however have the benefit of the unknown, where teams probably didn't get much of a look at him during preseason and also haven't seen him since.  New England benefited from the same thing when wide receiver Fred Coleman came in out of nowhere and caught a 46-yard pass play on a slant, setting up a touchdown in their win over the Jets last season.

Brady has shown he's not afraid to spread the ball around, with 10 different players having at least one reception so far this season.  If Givens is able to play and get open, it's a pretty safe bet he's going to get the football.  He'll likely be matched up one-on-one favorably as David Patten and Donald Hayes would be receiving the majority of attention, with guys like tight ends Cam Cleeland, Christian Fauria, and Daniel Graham in the mix catching the eye of whoever else is on the field.  If Givens is able to get lost in the mix, it could put him in some very favorable situations.

If he's able to play this weekend, his role with the team suddenly just became a bit more important.

Opportunity may be knocking, and if he gets his chance Givens will need to answer.  Those chances don't come along that often in the NFL, and players are kept around to provide their team with depth because the coaches believe they can make an impact.

Hopefully Givens can do just that.