ALBANY, N.Y. — Entering his fourth season with the New York Giants, wide receiver Ramses Barden is reaching the point in his career where it’s time to start producing.
The four-year veteran, drafted in the third round, has played 17 games, catching 15 passes for an 11.6 yard average. While he broke an ankle in 2010 and missed the first half of last season continuing to rehab it, Barden has to know the Giants (No. 3 in the AP Pro32) need more from him, especially after losing Mario Manningham to free agency and having Hakeem Nicks on the physically unable to perform list while he rehabilitates a broken foot.
“It’s time,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “It was time last year. The guy is going to make a mark in the league. He’s smart. He’s been around long enough. He’s been in the heat of it. You know, he’s made plays. He just needs to make them more consistently. That’s all I hope. (That) this is his time.”
Barden also expects more this year, but he isn’t putting a figure on it.
“We have a lot of talent in that (receivers) room, and we have a lot of competitiveness,” he said. “Those are the things I am concerned (with), finding a way to beat the person in front of me. I feel like the rest will take care of itself. I am excited to seize all the opportunities that I think can come my way, but other than that, that’s it. I just want to enjoy it. I want to enjoy the game and I want to complete at the same time.
“That’s my goal for this year.”
Barden, who was inactive for all four postseason games, said it’s good to finally be healthy again. He is also more confident.
“Any time you are on the field, you want to take utmost advantage of what you have,” he said of Nicks’ absence. “That’s all it is. Any time you have an opportunity, you play with maximum effort. Because that opportunity might not come again.”
Starting middle linebacker Chase Blackburn returned to practice after missing Saturday’s practice with a thigh injury. The eight-year veteran said he would have practiced if needed, but there was no sense testing the injury in camp.
Blackburn said watching second-year linebacker Mark Herzlich take most of the snaps Saturday reminded him of his early days in the league when he tried to get on the field as much as possible to impress the coaches.
“I think if you ever get complacent in this game, you’ll get passed by in a hurry,” Blackburn said. “No. 1 saying everyone has. If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. You never stay the same.
Blackburn said he there is always something to learn about the defense.
“I’ve got a pretty good understanding. I can pretty much tell you any position on defense, what they’re gonna do on a play,” Blackburn said. “But again, there’s so much more you can do. Offenses learn what you’re playing as well and they’re gonna attack certain parts. There’s always strengths and weaknesses to every defense. Cover 3, Cover 2, when you blitz. There’s always a strength and a weakness to everything. I think it’s always good to know what those are.”
EXTRA POINTS: After catching a pass in the flat, tight end Martellus Bennett quickly turned up field at practice on Monday and ran past the media on the sideline. As he came back, the former Cowboy, who has been called fat by some members of the media, said: “Now y’all can write about the speed.” … Coughlin put his defense in a position where it needed to make a stop to stay in the game, a so-called defensive two-minute drill. Eli Manning ruined it, hitting Victor Cruz on a long pass that would have iced the game.