On Wednesday, the Giants ruled out receivers Hakeem Nicks and Domenik Hixon for their Thursday night game against Carolina. With two of their three main receivers missing the game, Thursday presented tremendous opportunity for the young Giants backup receivers.
Who would step up? Maybe the most unlikely candidate to some fans, but fourth year wide out Ramses Barden stepped in and made the most of his opportunity.
Eli Manning (10) will have at least one new target after Barden’s big game. Not to be forgotten, Manning was 27-35 for 288 yards and one touchdown. PHOTO COURTESY: BOB LEVERONE/AP PHOTOS
The 6’ 6” receiver played like a “Giant” and was the number one receiver in the Giants 36-7 rout of the Panthers. He ended the game with nine catches and 138 yards while entering the game with only 16 catches in his career.
At this level, you never know when you’re going to get an opportunity,” Giants quarterback Eli Manning said after the game of the breakout performances (running back Andre Brown scored two touchdowns replacing the injured Ahmad Bradshaw). “You’ve got to be prepared for it.”
It would seem Barden was prepared; almost as if he had been waiting years for this opportunity.
Barden was a third round draft pick in 2009 out of Division I-AA California Poly and has been considered a project since the Giants took him. When news that Nicks was not going to be active for this game broke, many thought that rookie Ruben Randle would get the nod over Barden.
Barden however got the opportunity and now the Giants may have found a diamond in the rough. Barden was the fourth receiver on the depth chart, but will now surely move ahead of Hixon for the third receiver spot, which could make the Giants passing attack even better.
It is too soon to say that Barden is a better receiver than Hixon, but it isn’t too soon to say that Hixon hasn’t been consistent enough to secure his job. Even if HIxon is cleared to play before their next game, the Giants would be hard pressed to replace him with Barden now.
Many had written off Barden and were even throwing around the word “bust” despite his limited play. He however did show flashes in the preseason that caught the eye of a few people, including a writer on this particular blog.
He now has been put in a situation to succeed and his size will create matchup problems in the slot against much smaller cornerbacks.
When a healthy Nicks returns, Barden won’t be targeted as much as he was against the Panthers. However, it seems that Barden has earned the trust of Manning and they seem to be relatively comfortable with each other. Because of this, Barden should be looked at as a reasonable third option for the rest of the year, and he could be the wild card for one of the most potent offenses in the NFL.
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