Giants Training Camp Report: Rookie Receivers Have Impressive Debuts

David SanchiricoCorrespondent IAugust 3, 2009

(Albany, NY- August 3, 2009) -

When Ramses Barden walked out of the Colonial Quad dining hall after practice Monday morning, most reporters stationed outside were confused.

They had no idea who the player who resembled a muscular basketball small forward was.

"He looks too big to be a receiver," said one cameraman when asked if the tall player in the black hoodie was indeed Barden.

In street clothes, the 6'6", 227-pound receiver resembles a rebounding specialist more than a speedy wide receiver who gallops a 4.48 40-yard dash.

But on the field, Barden fit right in with the other young receivers trying to earn one of the Giants' top two wide receiver spots; he was running precise routes and out dueling defensive backs for jump balls.

Both rookie wide receivers, Barden and Hakeem Nicks, got their first taste of training camp Monday morning and impressed fans and coaches alike.
"I told (Nicks and Barden) this morning 'your enthusiasm is great, but it has to be maintained,' " said head coach Tom Coughlin.
Nicks seemed more like a cheery football fan watching the training camp action than a first-time pro sweating and running during a grueling football workout. He displayed a wide smile all session long, showing his excitement to begin his pro career.
Before the weekend, it didn't seem like Nicks would make it to the beginning of training camp; Nicks was still without a contract two days before players were to report to Albany.
But the former North Carolina Tar Heel and GM Jerry Reese agreed to a five-year contract on Saturday, ensuring that he wouldn't miss any days and fall behind.
"It was really important for me to sign before camp started," Nicks said. "My team was going to be here, so I was supposed to be here."
So instead of dealing with a lengthy contract dispute, Nicks is acclimating himself with the Giants' offensive scheme and the speed of the pro game.
And it still may take a while for Nicks to fully adjust to the NFL, but being in camp from the start will help the 6'1" receiver build chemistry faster with quarterback Eli Manning and the other offensive weapons .
"It's very important that (Nicks) got in on time this year," Manning said. "He's out there running routes, being a part of everything and learning from the get-go."
On the other side, Barden had more of an impact on the field during the early session.
Expected to replace Burress as a red-zone touchdown machine, Barden showed that his skills reached beyond 20 yards outside the end zone. He caught numerous short passes in traffic and did not shy away from contact; at one point, Barden caught a pass and took a pop from cornerback Aaron Ross, but managed to hold on to the ball.

The comparisons to Burress do not affect Barden. He's foucusing on doing what he's done to make it this far: making plays.

"(Replacing Burress) is not something on my mind," Barden said. "My goal is to learn the playbook. Everything else that comes after that is icing on the cake."

It will be up to a host of young wide receivers to help the duo of rookie receivers learn the playbook and the concept of the offense.

Though they lack sufficient experience, guys like Steve Smith and Sinorice Moss are now the veteran leaders of the receiving corp. They learned from Burress and Toomer; now they must pass down that knowledge to players barely younger than they are.

"(Nicks) was getting frustrated because he wasn't getting balls," Smith said. "I told him to keep his head in it and to stay focused. The opportunities are going to come and just make sure you're ready."

Moss has also taken it upon himself to get the duo up to speed.

"I'm going into my fourth year; I know the offense, I know the dos and don'ts. I can teach Hakeem and Ramses what to do," he said.

As both players digest the playbook, they will receive reps with the second and third teams, but Coughlin said that both players would receive time with the first unit.

"Right now those guys are up to here trying to learn what we do, and that's the first thing," he said. "Lets see if they can comprehend all the things we're asking them to do."

David Sanchirico is in Albany this month to cover training camp for, Bleacher Report, and SNY's Giants' Football Blog....