Ramses Barden and New York Giants Look for 2012 to Be His Breakout Year

Lou Rom@louromliveContributor IAugust 1, 2012

Jul 28, 2012; Albany, NY, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Ramses Barden (13) dives for a ball during training camp at University Field at SUNY Albany.  Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE

Ramses Barden has all the tools to be a great NFL receiver. The New York Giants would settle for solid, reliable and workman-like.

Barden, the Cal Poly standout whose college career may be the only reason he still has a spot on this roster, hasn't given up on great.

In four years at Cal Poly, he put up numbers as big as his 6'6" frame: 206 receptions for 4,203, with 50 touchdowns. He also averaged 20.4 yards per catch. No, that's not a misprint. He averaged 20.4 yards per catch over his career.

In fact, in his junior year he averaged 25.7 yards per catch.

But this is not the NCAA, and in the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately NFL, Barden has an unimpressive 17 catches for 174 yards, at an 11.6 clip.

Barden has had impressive camps, and he's at it again this year according to Giants brass. But, the proof is in the NFL starts, and in points on the board—of which Barden has zero.

“I've always practiced well at this time of year,” Barden told CBSSports.com recently after a Giants practice at SUNY in Albany, New York. “That's not really what I'm concerned about."

“Obviously camp is extremely important, but it's not my sole focus. I'm preparing for the season. Preseason, season: those are my checkpoints," he added.

Last year the talk was similar. An enthusiastic Barden hoping for his shot. An optimistic Giants coaching staff waiting for him to deliver on the promise of an outstanding college career.

But last year, because of his injured ankle, Barden began the season on PUP.

This year Barden has no such obstacle. And he faces fewer challenges from players who have taken NFL snaps.

When the Giants moved up in 2009 to select Barden in the third round of the draft, they thought they had a receiver in the mold of Keyshawn Johnson: a big target, who was physical and game smart.

And, with decent speed for a big guy and his great height advantage, one would think the Giants would start to see some return on their investment.

Giants receivers coach Sean Ryan told the Star-Ledger that Barden's camp performance "only scratches the surface of what he’s capable of doing."

“He’s a smart player and that gives you the ability to move him around. He can play all four (receiver) spots. He’s done a good job of staying attentive in meetings when he hasn’t played, so I expect him to mentally, off the bat, be in a good place.”

Once again, Barden has impressed in camp, says Ryan, hauling in catches no one else on the field can touch and displaying his grit and persistence on and off the field.

Now, it's time for Ramses to deliver, or he may be the odd man out in New York, with a 2012 receiving class that includes LSU standout Rueben Randle and a healthy Domenik Hixon back in the mix.

We'll know a lot more in the next 30 days.