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Barden Making A Big Impression


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Pictures from a variety of angles exist and have already been circulated on the internet, showing Ramses Barden in full extension, his right arm seemingly scraping the clouds as he reached up, up, up for a one-handed catch during a one-on-one drill against another rookie, cornerback Stoney Woodson.


That Woodson jumped into the air was irrelevant; he is 5-foot-10 and needed an elevator to rise up where the 6-foot-6 Barden resides. Barden is aware of the evidence in cyberspace of one of his highlights in his first training camp with the Giants.


"I've seen a couple of them," Barden said, flashing a sheepish smile. "That day I liked them, but [the next day's] a new day and I'd like to continue to make plays, continue to make my teammates feel that I'm working as hard as they are and that I'm part of this team."


Oh, he's part of the team all right. Of that there never was a doubt ever since the Giants plucked him out of low-level Cal Poly in the third round of the NFL Draft, a supposedly raw receiver who, at least physically, looked like a reasonable replacement for Plaxico Burress.


What at first was expected to be a developmental year for Barden may become something much more. It's too early to anoint anyone based on practice; tonight Barden makes his preseason debut as the Giants face the Panthers at Giants Stadium. If he shows the same physical and mental acuity that has been on display in training camp the Giants may be able to count on Barden sooner rather than later.


"From the standpoint of where he's at as a receiver I think most people would be very pleased based upon his background, where he's at right now," receivers coach Mike Sullivan said.


Barden has actually shown up more often on the practice field than Hakeem Nicks, the more-heralded first-round draft pick from North Carolina. Nicks has enjoyed some moments but he's also missed time with a strained hamstring. Both of those rookies, plus second-year Mario Manningham, fourth-year Sinorice Moss and fourth-year Derek Hagan -- whose stock has risen dramatically based on his work in Albany -- will be front and center tonight as the Giants seek to find viable replacements for the banished Burress and jettisoned Amani Toomer.


Even though Nicks is slated for an immediate role there's no denying the way Barden has handled his first NFL camp. He hasn't missed a single practice, which earns him brownie points with Tom Coughlin. He's caught the ball in traffic, over the middle, over his shoulder downfield. Well-spoken and bright-eyed, the Giants know Barden is extremely smart and he's shown himself to be far more polished than anticipated.


"He's got a great feel for what's going on ... that's something I'm most impressed with," quarterback Eli Manning said.


During one drill, after Barden went up and over another smaller defensive back, safeties coach David Merritt shouted: "That's not fair, you're 6-6."


Barden doesn't engage in much talking when he's on the field.


"I haven't seen any corners that are 6-6, you don't see too many that are bigger than 6-1," he said. "So, naturally, I think I have that height advantage but there's so much more to the game than the physical part. You have to add the details and the precision part of it to enhance your game that much more."


The fans have taken notice, as Barden quickly emerged as a favorite for those who line the practice fields at the University at Albany.


"That's nice but at the same time I can't be extremely concerned with the expectations," Barden said. "This is still practice, we still haven't played a game yet, I still need to be able to show I can work just as hard and have some success against other NFL caliber corners on Sundays."

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