Can Giants’ Barden replicate Victor Cruz’s breakout season?

New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese may have struck wide receiver gold again.

We are going to indulge our overreaction gene and compare Ramses Barden’s breakout “TNF” performance against the Panthers with the fellow receiver Victor Cruz’s Week 3 2011 110 outburst, which was a precursor to many a salsa dance.

Barden caught nine balls for 138 yards in the absence of starter Hakeem Nicks. He told “NFL AM” on Friday morning Cruz’s performance last year was one impetus behind his play.

“I think (Cruz’s play) inspires a lot of people,” Barden said. “I think it inspires people from every sport, from every walk of life, to come out of nowhere and achieve something that people might not have thought you had the potential to do so.”

Cruz blew up, becoming one of the best stories of the 2011 season and played a vital role in the G-Men’s run to the Super Bowl. Barden hopes, even when Nicks returns from injury, he is given the chance to continue proving his worth on the field.

“I hope so, that’s part of my goal,” he said. “I’m here to work, I’m here to compete, and I want to help my team in whatever capacity possible.”

Cruz snagged 82 passes for 1,535 yards last season. We don’t see Barden keeping pace with those numbers, especially after Nicks returns, but if Thursday was any indication, the Giants found their replacement for the departed Mario Manningham.

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