Ramses Barden (concussion) latest injured Giants receiver

Ramses Barden cannot catch the ball during a

Ramses Barden cannot catch the ball during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. (Sept. 30, 2012) (Credit: Getty)

Giants receivers aren't dropping passes. They're just dropping.

"Like flies," Victor Cruz said Wednesday, plying a familiar simile after a practice in which the team had only four receivers on the active roster healthy enough to participate. "Every time I look up, there's another one gone."

The latest is Ramses Barden, who suffered a concussion late in Sunday night's 19-17 loss to the Eagles. Barden was one of the receivers who saw increased playing time because of the knee and foot injury to Hakeem Nicks in the last two games. Now he joins Nicks on the sideline.

Neither has been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Browns, but for an offense that has become increasingly reliant on the pass, the possibility of having only four available targets for Eli Manning -- and only two with more than one career reception -- is a concern.

"It's something that we have to battle through," Cruz said. "It's something that is part of this business. Guys get injured and guys potentially miss games, so we just have to be ready to go and the guys who are behind have to be ready to step up."

One of them will likely be Rueben Randle, the Giants' second-round pick this spring. The rookie has only one reception but is developing a working relationship with Manning. If neither Barden nor Nicks can play, Randle would likely be the Giants' third receiver.

"Whether it's this week, or sometime, he's going to have to make some plays for us, and I believe he can do that," Manning said of Randle.

Barden's injury seems to have occurred on the play when Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha was flagged for pass interference and safety Kurt Coleman came flying in from behind and clipped the back of Barden's helmet.

Barden came in Tuesday complaining of some symptoms, Tom Coughlin said, and so they put him through the concussion protocols.

"I think a lot of the symptoms were OK," Coughlin said, "but there was enough there to slow him down."

The more pressing injury is Nicks' knee, which was so swollen after a day of use last week that he missed a second straight game. Coughlin said the team remains unsure of why the knee was swollen. "Could be the weather," he said.

Nicks usually practices once a week, typically on Thursdays, but there was no indication Wednesday that he'd be able to participate Thursday.

"The medical people have that under control, and we all just react according to their beck and call," Coughlin said. "If he can practice, he'll practice. Hopefully, we'll get enough indication so we can plan for it."

Receiver wasn't the only position that was thin at practice, which had eight players as non-participants. The Giants were missing two starting offensive linemen -- David Baas (hand) and Chris Snee (hip) -- as well as five defensive starters who were at best limited. Practice was cut short by about 10 minutes, presumably because of a lack of healthy bodies.

Most of those players are expected back sometime this week and will likely play Sunday. The receivers remain the thinnest and the most uncertain.

Cruz, who leads the league with 32 receptions, said they'll be ready . . . no matter who "they" includes or excludes.

"You're one play away, and that's what it is," Cruz said. "You just want to be prepared for that. We have a good receiving corps, top down. Everyone else might be surprised [by the success of the substitutes], but to me it's just a matter of opportunity and time."

A guy like Randle could wind up getting plenty of both on Sunday.

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