Bad enough that the Giants absorbed a mistake-filled loss to the Cowboys Sunday. Now their corps of wide receivers, once deep, has grown so short that they'll have to pick up another one just to run a four-wide set.
Ramses Barden, the promising second-year receiver out of Cal Poly, was the latest to leave the offense, following that of go-to guy Steve Smith and, before him, preseason sensation Victor Cruz. But unlike Smith, and very much like Cruz, Barden won't be coming back. He suffered a fractured left ankle with ligament damage during a three-catch, 34-yard performance, and is headed to the IR.
That leaves Mario Manningham, Hakeem Nicks, and undrafted and untested rookie Duke Calhoun as the only wide receiver options right now. But another may be coming soon, as the Giants will undoubtedly scour the list of the unemployed. Former Giant Derek Hagan, cut in training camp this year, might be at the top of that list, along with younger training camp cuts like Taye Biddle and Nyan Boeteng.
They also have second-year pro Samuel Giguere on the practice squad.
The pickup will be necessary because Smith is not expected to be ready to come back from his strained pectoral muscle in time for the Eagles game Sunday night. They could try to push along Darius Reynaud's recovery from a hamstring injury, but Tom Coughlin said to have him active would represent an ahead-of-schedule return. The last thing the Giants need to do now is to rush an injured receiver back into the lineup.
"Whatever is available will be looked at," Coughlin said.
While the coach didn't eliminate the possibility of Calhoun playing the third wide receiver, he sounded as if he'd be more confident in an experienced, outside veteran for that spot.
He's got great energy and great stamina," Coughlin said of Calhoun, who worked as a fourth receiver against Dallas but did not have a pass thrown to him. "He plays tough, but he's got the experience factor working against him. He has a lot to learn, fast."
It is possible tight end Travis Beckum could get more opportunities. But Coughlin would have much preferred to have Barden and his 6-foot-6, 227-pound frame out there, especially in the end zone. Eli Manning targeted him in the back corner of the end zone on one play, but the pass was incomplete.
Barden finished his season with five catches for 64 yards and no touchdowns.
"He had gained confidence and made a strong contribution," Coughlin said. "What Ramses needed was to get out there and play. Just let him compete. And that's what he was doing. It's unfortunate he won't continue."