Q. RE: Ramses Barden’s special teams performance and getting a chance to play more on offense.
A. No question. You hit the nail on the head. That, to me, is a real factor determining the fourth through the sixth receivers. How much are they going to play because they have to have the special teams value, whether it’s the punt or punt return or kickoff and kickoff return. That is a huge factor, combined with continuing to develop at wideout, will certainly increase the chances of contributing.
Q. In terms of his skills as a receiver, we all figured he would have a little bit of an adjustment period coming from Cal-Poly. But how do you think he has been in terms of his receiver skills?
A. He came in from a program that wasn’t oriented towards a pro style passing attack, so there has been a learning curve. He certainly worked hard and there are some mechanics that have improved in terms of his route running and in terms of his releases. The next step for him is to go right over into the game and based upon his performance in the preseason, while he has showed some flashes, he also showed some areas that he needed to improve and to develop and grow. That’s what the good thing is in terms of how he has been throughout this season. Whether it’s getting sprinkled in with some reps with our offense or being part of the demonstration with the show team, he continues to improve in those areas, so that combined with some of the special teams value which you really can’t separate, those would be the two factors that I think will be critical with getting him more opportunities.
Q. During training camp he was like the star of camp, just doing physical work. Then when it got more into the games and everything he kind of faded?
A. That’s always the big test for a football player, to be able to transfer success into success from practice into a game scenario. That’s the challenge. I think one of the things when you look at the three receivers who have had the most opportunities thus far this season it’s been a combination of health, being able to be out there and stepping up when getting an opportunity. Then making plays when given opportunities. The guys that are able to do that stay out there and are the ones who are going to be out on the field the most.
Q. At the start of training camp all the questions were about the wide receiver group. From our perspective it looks like things have worked out pretty well. From your perspective, watching them on tape, how do you gauge some of the progress of some of your young guys?
A. Well we set the bar pretty high in OTAs and in training camp. While there are some good things we have done, I think as a group, first and foremost, we are disappointed that we are sitting here at 5-4. The group is constantly looking at what are some of the little things that we could have done better. A few key plays could have been made. A few balls that you could have come down with, a few blocks, being on the same page as the quarterback. The standard is set to want to be the best players that we can be but also help the team win. The fact that we are sitting here where we are right now there is some satisfaction but far from pleased or satisfied. Still a very hungry group.
Q. With (Hakeem) Nicks, both Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning made references to the fact that he has the big play potential but some of the little stuff, like route running, needs to be a little bit more precise. Is that something you see he needs development in?
A. Yes. Two things that have been mentioned by Coach Coughlin and Coach Gilbride is the fact that he catches the ball well and he is extremely productive after the catch. He makes plays and he makes people miss. That is going to serve him well and that’s made him a very good player. I think from the standpoint of taking the next step he needs to be very defined and crisp in his route running. All of the fundamentals, the mechanics from the release to getting separation, to angles of finish, reading the defensive coverages and anticipating what the defense is going to do. These are all areas that he’s improving and needs to continue to improve upon. The good news about Hakeem Nicks is he seeks out that advice. I offer him the feedback, but he beats me to the punch oftentimes because he says, ‘Hey coach, how can I do this better and how does this look and what do you think about this?’ He has the willingness and tremendous attitude toward trying to improve and he is aware of those areas. I think as long as he continues to work and take it step by step, he has a very bright future.