The Giants lost for the second time this preseason when the Chicago Bears came back from a 10 point halftime deficit to defeat the defending Super Bowl champions 20-17 on Friday night.
Despite the loss, the Giants had plenty to be happy about. Quarterback Eli Manning was 17-21 with a 148 yards and a touchdown. The defense was also stout holding Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler to 9-21 passing for 96 yards and only surrendered one touchdown against a solid Chicago offense.
The brightest spot of Friday’s loss however was the play of two young players who may have earned more snaps with the starting offense as opening night fast approaches.
Fourth year receiver Ramses Barden caught Manning’s lone touchdown pass, a short slant to the left out of the shotgun, showing promise as another big play receiver opposite Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. The touchdown was the first of Barden’s short career.
Barden finished the game with three receptions for 46 yards and couldn’t help but be confident after Friday’s game.
“I’m not a GM, I’m not a coach, I’m not a scout,” Barden said according to the NY Daily News. “I’d imagine that it says (to them), ‘We do have a gem. And let’s continue to grow him and polish him and give him the confidence he needs to succeed.’ ”
This could be a make or break year for Barden, who has been a project since the Giants drafted him out of Cal Poly in 2009. Physically, Barden has all the tools to be a top flight receiver. The 26 year old is huge at 6’ 6” and 224 pounds, but has yet to hit his stride as a pro.
In 2010, Barden suffered an ankle injury that held him out for the rest of the season and most of 2011. Barden appears to be healthy now, and Manning understands the matchup problem that he will create against many of the cornerbacks around the league.
“They’re gonna be scared of throwing the fade on ’em, if he gets outside you can back-shoulder, you can throw it up, you have all those options,” Manning said after the game. “You can box out the DBs a little bit, and that’s what you hope to get from a big guy.”
Rookie running back David Wilson got his first big opportunity and did not disappoint as he showed why the Giants took him with the final pick of the first round this year. Wilson racked up 75 total yards (49 yards on five rushes and two catches for 26 yards) while playing with the first team offense.
Wilson will not be expected to be the starter but was just filling in for Ahmad Bradshaw who was resting due to an injury. However, the young back showed why there is so much excitement surrounding his game.
“Obviously, you see the potential. You see the playmaking ability,” Manning said of his new running back. “A couple of the big runs, he ran hard, and got outside, got a good chunk. He had the short pass thrown to him, he got down the sideline for a big gain. So, those are the things you’re looking for.”
Wilson will have the opportunity to replace Brandon Jacobs as the team’s second running back, who signed with 49ers this offseason. In the first two preseason games, DJ Ware got many of the touches as the backup running back. It will be hard to argue with Wilson being that guy after his electric play was highlighted on Friday.
Wilson hopes that Head Coach Tom Coughlin sees him as that guy and gives him another chance to showcase his skills.
“To have the opportunity to make the plays that I made tonight, I want to keep that going and not be a one-time deal,” Wilson said.
It would seem that Wilson will definitely get another opportunity, and if he does, he could certainly help a Giants rushing attack that finished 32nd in the league last year.
Both Barden and Wilson could be “X-Factor’s” to the Giants who lost two key players at receiver and running back this offseason. Besides Jacobs, super bowl hero Mario Manningham also moved west to San Francisco to join the 49ers.
The door is open for these two players. The question is; will either of them step in?
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Contributor-Dave Ragazzo @DRagazzo_Sports
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