With Nicks out, Barden's time is now

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Giants downgraded Hakeem Nicks to out in somewhat of a surprising move after he was listed as questionable earlier in the day.

But when Nicks didn't do much in the morning walk-through, the team opted to play it safe, keep him out of the game and give him two weeks of rest before next week's game against Philadelphia on Sept. 30.

This is the right move for the long term. Nicks still feels pain in his surgically repaired right foot. He limped badly twice late during Sunday's win versus Tampa Bay and the Giants won't risk their star receiver by having him play twice in five days. It doesn't sound as if he has had a major setback but we'll have to see how he is feeling next week.

Unfortunately for Eli Manning, he will be without two of his top three receivers with Domenik Hixon (concussion) also out. So that means Ramses Barden's big moment has arrived. Barden should move up to the second receiver opposite Victor Cruz. And then second-round pick Rueben Randle and Jerrel Jernigan are options as the third receiver. Cruz should still be able to play out of the slot in three-wide sets.

Barden has one catch for 24 yards this season. The other main beneficiary is tight end Martellus Bennett. Manning has targeted him a total of 16 times in the previous two games and Bennett has scored in two straight games. Got to figure he will be a big part of the passing attack now. And perhaps there are passes to Andre Brown, David Wilson and fullback Henry Hynoski out of the backfield.

But the Giants offense loses major punch not having the dual big-play threat of Nicks and Cruz.

Tell us how you feel about Nicks sitting this one out below and who needs to step up.