ALBANY, N.Y. – Ramses Barden may be the biggest surprise of the New York Giants training camp, and it involves much more than his height.

The third-round draft pick from Cal Poly is showing the Giants that he has the tools to help them replace veteran receivers Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer.

The 6-foot-6 Barden has caught the short ball, gone deep, hauled in passes over the middle and delighted fans with a couple of spectacular catches in the first two weeks of training camp at the University at Albany.

His best play came a week ago in a 1-on-1 red-zone drill in an evening practice, when he made a leaping one-handed catch of a fade pass in the corner of the end zone.

A photo of the catch was posted on his Facebook page almost immediately.

“That day I liked them,” Barden said of the postings. “But today is a new day and I want to continue to make plays and I want my teammates to continue to feel I am working as hard as they are.”

Barden was somewhat of an unknown coming to training camp. Physically, the 245-pounder is solid, and his college statistics looked just as good with 206 career catches for a 20.4 yard average and 50 touchdowns.

The question was whether he could make the jump from the Football Championship Subdivision, a level below big-time college football, to the NFL.

So far, there seems to be no doubt.

“I expect a lot of myself,” Barden said. “When I look at the tape I find things wrong every play. There are a number of things that I could be doing differently and my goal is as the camp goes by and as the season goes by to eliminate those mistakes.”

Players and coaches have been impressed by Barden’s poise and his strength.

The other night, he ran a go pattern along the sidelines and looked very much like a veteran, using his hand to fend off a defensive back trying to get inside position.

“I like to think that it’s a part of my game,” Barden said of being physical. “As far as using the arm to push off, I’m not admitting to that. If anything, I like to say I use my arm to hold position on the sideline. When you can bring a physical part to the game, that’s another advantage I’ll have down the line.”

The play that excites everyone the most is the fade pattern in the corner of the end zone, similar to the one Burress used so effectively for four seasons with the Giants until he was released months after accidentally shooting himself in a Manhattan night club in November.

“I believe that when the ball goes up it has to be mine,” Barden said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Giants receivers coach Mike Sullivan said Barden has helped himself by not missing any practices.

“Ramses has done well,” added quarterback Eli Manning, who noted that Barden creates a lot of mismatches with his size. “He is catching everything, but I think he has a great feel for what is going on, that’s what I am most impressed with. He kind of gets things, which is what you normally don’t see from a rookie.”

Barden isn’t your ordinary rookie. Not only did he play football in college, he ran track and played volleyball. If his football coach would have allowed it, he would have played basketball, too.

That’s Barden, he wants to do everything, which might be what one would expect from someone named after pharaohs.

“My dad was big on history and he wanted to give me a name to strive to live up to,” Barden said. “I think he succeeded in giving me those goals. Hopefully, down the line, I can look back on my life and say I did something special with it.

“I love my name,” he added. “I love for people to call me by my first name. It’s pronounced Ram-zzzs. Not Ram-zis or Ramsey. It’s Ram-zzzs. I love my name, and I love my parents for giving it to me.”

The other name that seems to excite Barden is Larry Fitzgerald, the Arizona Cardinals receiver regarded by many as the NFL’s best.

“I love watching Larry Fitzgerald, he is one of my favorite receivers to watch,” Barden said. “He has that mentality of when the ball is in the air it is mine regardless of whether it is a short pattern, a long pattern, he is going to come down with the ball and come down with the catch whether in traffic or by himself. He just has that mentality that nobody else is going to get the ball, and that is something that I want to put into my game more and more.”


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