Where were the rookie receivers that the Giants held on to as opposed to trading for Braylon Edwards?
They were on the field. In fact, they played for virtually the entire second half. But aside from the instances in which Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski were salivating over Ramses Barden, their names were scarcely called in game action.
Third-round pick Ramses Barden had a 20-yard reception on a poorly covered third and 17. He also was overthrown on the Giants last offensive play on the game, one that could have put the Giants in position to win it with a field goal.
Some speculate that Barden could have attempted to lay out for the reception, but he was at a poor angle and appeared to have trouble locating the ball.
First round selection Hakeem Nicks was very quiet, too. Throughout the first half, Nicks was frequently located by ESPN cameras behind Giants coaches, standing helplessly with his helmet on.
He got his chance in the second half, albeit a minimal one. He jumped too early on a long pass down the sideline, but redeemed himself with a nice snag on a quick slant. Other then that, he was essentially transparent.
Unfortunately, if this is how the rotation goes throughout the preseason, the mediocre performances for Barden and Nicks will become a trend.
Let's face it: A wide receiver can only do so much in spite of poor quarterback play and a horrendous offensive line. For two rookies, it is even harder to adapt.
This is starting to parallel to the legend of Kenny Phillips that permeated throughout New York tabloids in August of 2008. He was anointed the defense's x-factor by many, but promptly went on to serve his meager role as a rotational safety without much freedom.
Similarly, Barden provoked many headlines detailing the 6'6" receiver's raw talent and advanced knowledge of the game. But like Phillips, the sentiment is starting to emerge that No. 13 will be exclusively used in the red zone. Barring injury or extremely poor performances by his peers, his impact between the 20s will be minimal.
Hakeem Nicks has had a less explosive camp than Barden. He's caught everything thrown his way, but has lacked spectacular moments and has missed extensive practice time with a lingering hamstring injury. Like Barden, Nicks's possibility to contribute was squashed by the sub-par talent around him.
The next three preseason games will be very revealing. If Coughlin continues to rotate his young receivers in with other on-the-bubble talent, Nicks and Barden will be hard-pressed to turn some heads. This will likely deter them from convincing the coaches to rank them high on the depth chart come September.
However, if the Giants alter their strategy and allow Nicks and Barden to be on the field at the same time as Eli Manning, they will get their chance to shine. And if they take advantage of it, their chances of contributing when it matters will be bolstered.
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