Patience pays off for Brown, Barden

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- There are many things Ernie Accorsi taught Jerry Reese about being an NFL general manager.

But one thing that has stuck with Reese perhaps more than anything else was Accorsi's philosophy on when to give up on a draft pick.

"One thing that Ernie Accorsi taught me, if I don't remember anything else, [is] you got to give guys a chance to fail," Reese said. "And if they fail, say 'Look, we made a mistake, let's move on.'"

Reese might not have thought it would have taken this long for Andre Brown and Ramses Barden to show what they can do. But on Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers, two of his picks from the 2009 draft helped the Giants dominate in a 36-7 victory.

In their first career starts, Brown and Barden shined brightly while filling in for the injured Ahmad Bradshaw and Hakeem Nicks.

Four years after being taken in the fourth round by the Giants out of NC State, Brown rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns as a feature back. He sparked the running game for the second time in five days. He ran with power, trucking a Carolina defensive back, while also being patient and turning what appeared to be minimal runs into big gains.

Barden looked every bit like the tantalizing prospect Reese took in the third round out of Cal Poly with hopes he would one day replace Plaxico Burress' size and playmaking ability.

The 6-foot-6 receiver had nine receptions for 138 yards and repeatedly came up big with Carolina trying to slow down Victor Cruz.

There must be something about a Giants player breaking out in the third game of the season. It was Cruz who had his breakout performance last season in Week 3 at Philadelphia.

"The mantra of the whole week was 'the next man up,'" Barden said.

Brown gave the Giants a preview of things to come on Sunday when he rushed for 71 yards and a touchdown against Tampa Bay after Bradshaw injured his neck.

Not only was Brown making his first start, but the North Carolina native was making it against one of the teams that has waived him.

"Walking into this stadium … and we drove by the spot where I had to park my car and go up there and take that walk up to the office," Brown recalled of being waived by the Panthers in November 2010. "It really humbled me. And [it] made sure that everything is not guaranteed."

Brown has been waived eight times -- by the Giants, Broncos, Colts, Panthers and Redskins -- since tearing his Achilles in his rookie training camp.

Brown was on the bubble this season but made the team over D.J. Ware and is now finally able to show what he can do on the field.

"Andre Brown had an injury when he was a rookie and bounced around a bit and circled back to us," Reese said. "We always liked him. We thought he was Derrick Ward-like but faster."

Brown was a bit nervous in the beginning of the game.

"He got off to a little shaky start," said Eli Manning, who told the offense before the game at the afternoon walk-thru that this is why guys like Barden and Brown are on the team -- for opportunities to step up. "I noticed he went the wrong way on the first play of the game."

Fortunately for the Giants, the first offensive play was a pass that was completed to Cruz for 12 yards.

The second play of the game went to Barden for eight yards. And soon after that, it felt like every other pass went to Barden, who had seven of his catches by halftime.

Barden would end up catching as many passes in this game as he did all of last season. Like Brown, it has been a long winding path for Barden as well.

He has suffered some setbacks physically, none bigger than a fractured ankle in 2010.

"Ramses Barden has played well every time he's played," Reese said. "He has just been injured. That's all."

Reese said he doesn't always subscribe to the theory that a player usually has to show something by his third season in the league. Some are just late-bloomers.

"I have seen a lot of guys after their third year enter their fourth year and turn it on," Reese said. "Amani Toomer comes to mind. His first three years, he was trying to get it, trying to get it.

"In his fourth year, he was lights out," Reese continued. "He was one of the all-time great receivers. It is not always a three-year rule with guys."

No one knows how the story will end for Brown and Barden. But on this night, the two showed that the Giants are incredibly deep and that they just might have two new contributors this season.

Entering the season, the Giants were looking to replace Brandon Jacobs and Mario Manningham.

Now they have a running back who can start while Bradshaw is injured and provide a good one-two punch when Bradshaw returns.

And Barden just might be the team's new third receiving weapon Manning needs.

Barden was asked how gratifying this performance was after having to wait this long and endure injuries.

The receiver started laughing.

"Words can't describe," Barden said with smile as wide as his wingspan. "Words can't describe."

Nearby in the locker room, Brown was smiling too.

"I'm just going to ride this," Brown said. "And hopefully it is a long wave."

Sometimes it is good to have patience. Reese knows this better than anyone.