|Giants WR Ramses Barden could be a new weapon for Eli Manning. (US Presswire)|
However, a review of Thursday night’s 36-7 drubbing of the Carolina Panthers suggests Giants quarterback Eli Manning has more weapons than just Nicks and fellow receiver Victor Cruz.
Manning relied heavily on tight end Martellus Bennett and wide receiver Ramses Barden, who saw extended playing due to the absence of Nicks (foot) and Domenik Hixon (concussion). Manning hit Bennett and Barden a combined 15 times for a total of 211 yards and completed six passes to running backs in the victory.
It wasn’t his 510-yard, jaw-dropping performance from Week 2, but once again Manning proved he’ll take what the defense gives him.
Obviously Andre Brown (two touchdowns, 113 yards) and Barden (nine catches, 138 yards) played well, but here are a few performances that may have gone unnoticed:
What looked good?
- The Giants are blessed to have kicker Lawrence Tynes and punter Steve Weatherford. They were somewhat forgotten in the victory, which is a shame, because both were perfect. Tynes hit all five of his attempts, including one from 47 yards and another from 49 yards away. Weatherford only had to punt twice, and each attempt was downed inside the 20-yard line
- Actually, special teams coordinator Tom Quinn might have his best all-around unit in years. Rookie David Wilson has looked solid on kick returns, the coverage teams are getting downfield, every one of Zak DeOssie’s snaps has been perfect and linebacker Spencer Paysinger -- who forced a fumble and recovered the same fumble on Thursday -- has emerged as a special teams ace.
- Fullback Henry Hynoski is going to save the Giants when they need it most. Don’t believe me? Notice how effective he’s becoming as a check-down option. He’s never a primary target (nor should he be), but he has the strength and straight-ahead quickness to turn a short pass into a first down. Fans know Hynoski -- who had two catches for 15 yards against the Panthers -- as a blocker, and he’s good at that. The real story, however, is that Hynoski was an all-around fullback at Pittsburgh and the Giants are starting to find ways to use all of his gifts.
- Solid all-around performance from the offensive line. Sean Locklear and Will Beatty looked good (for the most part) at right and left tackle. Center David Baas and right guard Chris Snee were instrumental in Brown’s big day.
What looked bad?
- Manning was careless with the football on two plays late in the first half. Besides that, he looked flawless.
- Second-year running back Da’Rel Scott had one more carry on Thursday (six) than he had all of 2011, and that’s about where the good news ends. Scott came on in place of Brown in the fourth quarter and finished with just nine yards. Yes, Scott is coming off a minor knee injury, but he looked lost at the line of scrimmage. Outside of one five-yard run, Scott really didn’t advance the ball.
What is still inconclusive?
- Barden was good, but he didn’t exactly get the best competition from the Panthers secondary. Cornerbacks played off of Barden for most of the first half, which made it easy for Manning and to complete one slant after another -- and that brings up another issue: Barden really only runs one route. Depending on how much room the defense is giving him, he can catch a five-yard slant or a 30-yard slant, and that’s pretty much the extent of his route tree.