It may be difficult to tell on television, but up close and personal, Ramses Barden is gigantic. At 6 feet 6 inches tall, he towers over the rest of the receiving core. Standing next to him on the sidelines is intimidating. His physical presence reminds me of Plaxico Burress, and he’s made some nice leaping, “Burress-esque” catches in training camp. On Monday, one such catch landed him a spot (#4) on Training Camp Top Plays.
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However, in the Giants first preseason game, Barden had only one catch for 14 yards, which was probably not the impression he was hoping to make. He was open on many of the passing routes, but he was unable to haul in the only other pass Eli threw his way. Manning was under pressure. The ball may have even been tipped. As it wobbled towards Barden, he had a chance to make the catch, but he couldn’t quite get his hands around it. It was a tough break. If it were a good throw, he would have likely caught the ball for a first down, but it wasn’t and he didn’t. Instead, it was a missed opportunity for Barden, who can’t afford to miss many more.
Ramses does have health on his side and a good head on his shoulders. He continually says the right things: “I love the way Eli throws the ball. I love the way coach Gilbride calls the plays. He gives a lot of people opportunities and Eli’s great at finding the open guy. So if you work and get open…chances are you’re going to get an opportunity to make a play.” The word “opportunity” is key. Barden has used this word along with “chances” several times during training camp, which means he knows where he stands.
Barden is shooting for the third wide receiver spot on the Giants roster, behind Cruz and Nicks. Eli will often look to them first, which limits Barden’s chances. He also faces stiff competition from Domenik Hixon, Rueben Randle and Jerrel Jernigan. The need to capitalize on every opportunity is paramount, and Barden knows it.
Giants fans are certainly rooting for him. An inch taller than Plaxico, Barden has big-play-maker written all over him. He has the size. He has the talent. Execution is the final step.
“It’s time. It’s time. It was time last year. It’s time,” said Tom Coughlin last week about Barden, who is certainly aware of the pressure, even if he is too cool and smart to let it show in his press conferences. He knows his response must be made on the field. In training camp, he has certainly made his presence known. Now it is time for Ramses Barden to make an impact in a game.