Ramses Barden seemed to be a focal point on Wednesday during the New York Giants OTA at Timex Performance Center. Indications during Wednesday's workout were that the fourth-year wide receiver had a good day. There certainly was enough attention focused on him afterward.
Barden is entering his fourth season, and has yet to fulfill the promise that led the Giants to trade up and take him in the third round of the 2009 draft. He has only 15 career receptions. With Mario Manningham gone to San Francisco as a free agent and Hakeem Nicks out for a while with a broken foot, Barden knows there will be additional reps for him throughout the summer.
"Every year is a big year," Barden said. "But contract-wise and where I've been in my career - dealing with injuries and some obstacles, I think it's definitely a big year. I'll play like I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. That's how I feel."
Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Wednesday that the Giants are looking for "consistency" from the 6-foot-6, 229-pound Barden.
"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," Coughlin said.
Quarterback Eli Manning also spoke about Barden on Wednesday.
"Ramses is a smart guy. He knows the offense. He knows what to do," Manning said. "Last year I think he was coming off the injury. He never really got exactly where he wanted to be. 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."
Going all the way back to his first training camp with the Giants Barden has shown flashes of brilliance. He just hasn't shown them often enough, or stayed healthy enough, to become a real impact player.
"That's kind of what they're waiting for," Barden said. "They were able to see some of that last year. In practice it's, ‘Here we go again, great catch.' They've seen enough of that. I've seen enough of it. I'm confident to do those things in practice and I'm confident to do them in a game. But I have to do them with that consistency, with that professionalism, so it's, ‘He made a good play, but we expect him to make those good plays.' I want that expectation. When you have that confidence behind you, it's amazing what you can do."
Barden played in eight games last season, catching nine passes. An admittedly poor effort by Barden in the Week 16 victory over the New York Jets led to his being inactive for the regular season finale against the Dallas Cowboys and the entire playoff run.
"I like how I was doing up until that game. And then I struggled to get into a rhythm. I did a couple of good things during the game. I think about that game every day. That played a major role in my playoff experience. So I'm driven by that," Barden said. "I can be a cerebral guy, so I do a lot of thinking - sometimes too much. That can be a hindrance on the field. Right now, it's trying to learn how to relax a little bit more, playing free. That unconscious competence that coach Rich Ellerson instilled in me in college. It would be nice to get back to that feeling."
The Giants would also like to see Barden get there.