Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 5/30/12

If another Victor Cruz wants to raise his hand, coach Tom Coughlin is taking applications to be the next out-of-nowhere star receiver to emerge for the Giants.

The team hasn't hit the panic button with Hakeem Nicks undergoing surgery last week to repair a broken right foot. Coughlin is holding out hope the veteran can return by training camp. In the meantime, he's using the offseason program to give a group of receivers an opportunity to step up.

Among them is unproven fourth-year player Ramses Barden, veteran Domenik Hixon returning from a major injury, promising second-year player Jerrel Jernigan and rookie second-round pick Reuben Randle.

Barden would appear a prime candidate for a breakout. He has just 17 receptions through three seasons, but flashed at times after being activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list last season.

"It would be great if he did," Coughlin said of Barden potentially filling Nicks' spot. "It has been a little bit of inconsistency. Some days are very, very good and others are not as good. He knows that and he is working hard on that. Hopefully it is going to all catch up with Ramses this spring and this fall."

No one is impacted by Nicks' injury more than quarterback Eli Manning. Cruz set the single-season franchise reception record last season, but Nicks is the trusted target Manning routinely turns to to move the chains and in the red zone - to the tune of 183 receptions over the past two years.

Barden knows the offense, but bringing that consistency to the field is the missing link.

"Last year I think he was coming off the (ankle) injury. He never really got exactly where he wanted to be," Manning said. "He looks like he is running well; coming out of his breaks well. So hopefully he can step up and play a role for us this year."

Coughlin said Hixon is progressing well and lauded his ability to make plays on a steady basis. But while he's routinely in the right place, he lacks a dynamic factor as a wide receiver. And there are plenty of questions about his durability, having played in two just two games over the past two seasons due to knee injuries.

If he can recover fully and regain his top-end speed, Hixon will certainly figure into the mix.

Coughlin said Randle is working his way through the typical bumps of a rookie receiver, learning a new playbook, how to maintain his intensity day in and day out and not making mistakes repetition after repetition.

"(The NFL) is a little bit different in terms of the peer pressure," Coughlin said. "He is feeling it and sensing it. He has only had a few days out here on the field. But you can see - all you have to do, really, is watch him catch punts. So you know he is talented."

For now, the Giants are evaluating what they have on the roster. They'll monitor Nicks' progress and movement around the league before considering bringing in another veteran.

"We will have time," Manning said. "Hakeem has always been a fast healer. So hopefully he gets healed up quickly and can get back for training camp - for a good bit of that where we can get our timing down. He is a guy who knows the offense. He knows what he is doing. It won't take long for us to get back on the same page."

Nicks' injury is a bit more magnified due to the defection of Mario Manningham to San Francisco in free agency. But Manning has faced questions about the depth of his receiving corps on an annual basis.

"It is just part of the NFL. You are going to have different guys in and out," Manning said. "And it is hard to continue to keep guys.

"We have had success. The receivers have done well. They work hard. Coaches do a good job of coaching them up and getting them doing the right things. So I think it keeps guys competing and working hard. And we do have a number of guys who have been in this offense for multiple years who do have a good feel.

"You are always going to have some new guys in that you are trying to train and try to get them caught up to speed. And hopefully they can continue to learn and get better and help out in some way."

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Kevin Love hurts shoulder after Kent Bazemore lands on it

Trump picks up endorsement from Lou Holtz, Gene Keady

Did Lakers commit tampering violation with Magic’s tweets?

Larry Bird, Pacers don’t sound committed to Frank Vogel

Justin Verlander, Kate Upton are engaged

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Josh Norman: Odell Beckham Jr. ‘trying to steal my bologna’

JJ Hardy reportedly out 6-8 weeks with fractured left foot

Title game hero Kris Jenkins returning to Villanova

University of Illinois is finally ready to find a new mascot

Luke Walton: D’Angelo Russell ‘can be a perennial All-Star’

Myles Jack: Fall out of first round was ‘humiliating’

WATCH: Billy Donovan plays dumb about SAS-OKC final play

Some questions about Space Jam 2 that need answers

Durant talks about getting name-drop on Drake's album

Hulk Hogan suing Gawker for leaking tape of racist rant

Randy Johnson to have street at Chase Field named after him

Five bizarre moments in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs

Barry Trotz is disappointed with Brooks Orpik suspension

Lou Lamoriello hopes the Leafs never get the first pick again

Questions for the second-round NBA playoffs series

Softball team loses title due to premature celebration

After avoiding losing, the Raptors can focus on winning

How the Sharks have 'weathered the storm' against the Predators

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Five bizarre moments in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs

How the Sharks have 'weathered the storm' against the Predators

Okay, who stole the Kansas City Royals player off that billboard?

Eight players to watch in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs

A Round-By-Round Look At the NFL Draft

10 biggest takeaways from the NBA playoffs thus far

QUIZ: Name every No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft since 1985

NHL postseason Round 2 quick hits: Sharks vs. Predators

NHL postseason Round 2 quick hits: Blues vs. Stars

NHL postseason Round 2 quick hits: Capitals vs. Penguins

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker