Barden Healthy and Ready to Go
At 6-6 and about 222 pounds, Ramses Barden doesn’t seem like your typical slot receiver.
Not even to himself.
“I’ve played more slot than I have anywhere else. It’s actually a surprise to me I’m comfortable there,” the Giants’ wide receiver said yesterday. “If you’d have asked me that coming out of college, I’d have been like, ‘Slot? What are you talking about?’
“But slot is fun. There’s always a way to win. It’s a mind game as much as it is anything.”
Barden’s mind hasn’t been the issue. It’s been his leg.
The third-year veteran is finally back to practice after opening training camp on the physically-unable-to-perform list. He’s still on PUP, but the three-week window for him to be activated is under way now that he’s practiced twice this week.
Barden says he feels great and likes the way he looks on practice film (“I wasn’t favoring anything, I was balanced,” he said), though he’s not sure if he’ll be added to the active roster before Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins.
Given the competition level this weekend and the recent success of the Giants’ passing game, it would seem there’s no rush. But after the loss of Steve Smith and the injury to the released Brandon Stokley, this offense is still searching for a slot receiver.
Despite the preconceived notion on what a slot receiver looks like — think small, quick guys like Smith, Stokley or the Patriots’ Wes Welker — Barden could fill the void.
“One of his greatest tools is he is a smart player,” wide receivers coach Sean Ryan said. “What that gives you is the availability to move him around. He can play all four spots.”
The last time Barden played in a game was last November against the Cowboys. Though his 26-yard catch came when he was lined up out wide, Barden was in the slot for 17 of his 19 snaps. He had two catches there and another that was negated by a penalty.
“It’s almost like you’re in a position where the tight end is,” Barden said, “but I have the physical attributes of a wide receiver and I’m able to use my body in certain ways when necessary, so I can be an asset there as much as any other place.”
Barden believes, over the next few years, NFL teams might start moving bigger receivers into the slot. He might have a point, seeing as how the spread offense in college is chipping away at the number of pass-catching tight ends in the draft.
“It’s the same concept as a tight end, but you have a little more freedom, you can do some more things because they have that receiver-type body,” said Barden, who touted patience in route-running as a key for slot receivers. “Now, those bodies don’t come along that often, but you take advantage of them when they do.”
Perhaps the Giants will begin doing so this weekend.
“I’m preparing my mind and my body to participate and contribute on Sunday,” Barden said. “If that’s not the case, it is what it is. But I’m happy right now to be out there practicing with the team and be a part of that energy and camaraderie again.”