Local hauls in big catch

Former Flintridge Prep standout Ramses Barden received a nice incentive following the conclusion of his first stretch of offseason activities with the New York Giants.

On Wednesday, Barden signed a four-year contract for $2.48 million with the Giants, who selected him with the 85th overall pick in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft on April 26.

As part of the contract, Barden will also net a $731,000 signing bonus.

“The New York Giants are an outstanding organization,” Barden said. “I couldn't ask to be part of a better team, from the coaching staff to management on down to the players, even the equipment and the training staff guys, there's so many pieces in place, it's just a really well-oiled machine.

“They do a great job of bringing the young guys along and getting them used to the system and how they do things and encouraging us to become better players.”

Barden's acclimation process began several weeks ago with the Giants' first rookie minicamp, May 9-10.

From May 27 to June 12, the Giants conducted full-squad organized team activities — including separate offensive and defensive sessions and several light full-squad practices — at their new state-of-the-art training facility, the Timex Performance Center, which opened May 18, located just west of Giants Stadium.

Players then participated in a mandatory full-squad minicamp June 15-17.

“It's pretty much been a crash course into the NFL practice environment,” said Barden, who starred at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he holds multiple receiving records. “It really is a job now, no longer are we student athletes. We're professional athletes and it's just getting up and going to work.

“That's really what the rookie minicamp and the minicamp were about.”

Neither of New York's starting receivers from the 2009 season, Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer, are back with the team, so the competition is fairly wide open for the group of receivers the Giants brought into minicamp.

Veterans Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith have the inside track on starting jobs and Sinorice Moss, Mario Manningham and David Tyree are also in the equation, as is rookie Hakeem Nicks, whom the Giants drafted out of North Carolina in the first round with the 29th overall pick. At 6 foot 6, Barden has more in the way of the valuable commodity of size than any other receiver on the roster, but it's unclear how much he will see the field in 2010.

“Rookie camp was competitive, but everything goes up a notch when you've got some of the best players in the world to compete on the same field,” Barden said. “The competition gets stepped up, the media's out there, it's really an exciting atmosphere.”

Barden will spend the next few weeks working out and preparing on his own, until the team reconvenes at the University of Albany for training camp, which will run from Aug. 2-25.


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