Barden finally gets his opportunity to shine and impress
JAIME C. HARRIS Special to the AmNews | 9/28/2012, 4:19 p.m.
Ramses Barden was almost an afterthought, but following his career-best performance versus the Carolina Panthers last Thursday, he is now a significant figure in the Giants' offensive scheme.
Barden, drafted by the Giants in the third round in 2009 out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, a relatively unknown college on the football landscape, filled in for the injured Hakeem Nicks at wide receiver, hauling in nine passes from Eli Manning for 138 yards in the Giants' 36-7 mashing of the Panthers, bringing their record to 2-1 as they head to Philadelphia this Sunday night (8:20 p.m.) to face the 2-1 Eagles.
Barden, 26, had only one reception this season before channeling his inner Jerry Rice and shredding the Panthers' defense. In his previous three seasons, the 6-foot-6, 225-pound native of Altadena, Calif., had a mere 15 total catches in 17 games, which led to him being tagged with the label of bust.
Speaking of Barden's progress, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said, "It does in some cases take time. Other situations, people come in and grasp [learning] faster."
The Giants had hoped Barden would develop into the heir apparent to Plaxico Burress. Instead, he became the Invisible Man, as injuries and inconsistency stymied his ascent on the Giants' depth chart. Now, with Nicks expected back in the starting lineup against the Eagles on one side of the field and Victor Cruz on the other, Barden has provided the Giants' lethal passing game with another viable threat.
Barden, whose father, Al Barden, was a member of New York University's 1960 Final Four team, said everyone on the Giants' roster buys into the philosophy of being steadfastly prepared when their number is called.
"The monster of the whole week was the next man up," said Barden after the victory over the Panthers. "We had a lot of guys who went down where we had areas where people needed to step up, and so many people did ... It was the complete team victory. I can't be more proud of everyone who was involved".
Indeed, with running back Ahmad Bradshaw sidelined, Andre Brown, another seemingly forgotten member of the Giants, rushed for a career-high 113 yards.
Barden and Brown are highly cognizant that in the NFL, it's all about "what have you done for me lately?" If they fade to black in the upcoming games, they will once again be viewed as obscure special teams players.