With injuries to starting wide receivers Steve Smith and Hakeem...

With injuries to starting wide receivers Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks, replacements Michael Clayton (above) and Devin Thomas will have to step up. (Aug. 21, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

There was a big crowd or reporters around the locker of Ramses Barden today, checking out how the wide receiver was coming along in practice and trying to get a hint as to when he might be ready to get back on the field. For that to happen, though, Barden first has to get back on the 53-man roster. Right now he’s still on PUP and able to practice with the team. When he does come back, it means someone will have to leave.

That someone might end up being Michael Clayton. Right now he’s the fifth receiver on the team – maybe even considered the sixth behind Da’Rel Scott who has taken a few snaps as a wide out – and he was only added to the roster when Brandon Stokley was injured. So while Barden was talking about revolutionizing the slot receiver position, I chatted with Clayton about what might be his final few days in an NFL locker room.

“Whatever is going to happen is going to happen,” he said. “I learned early in my career to only worry about the things I can control. That’s something that’s out of my hands. I’m glad Ramses is coming back, he’s missed a lot of time off and I know he’s eager to get back to football. He should have his due. If I have to be the one to be sacrificed for that, that’s the way it’s going to be. But I can’t control it.”

If the Giants activate Barden for the Dolphins game, there is a chance Clayton won’t make it to the weekend as a member of the team. But, he noted, he already has a role that goes beyond football. On Saturday he is scheduled to address the team in chapel. He might be a former Giant at the time, but that would probably only make his message stronger. He recalled today his thoughts back in September when he was cut from the team as it trimmed to 53 from training camp.

“Before they called me at 4:45, I got this epiphany that I wasn’t going to make the team,” he said. “’But here’s what you need to do.’ It was God talking to me. ‘Go home, get healthy, and get ready to play football because when I bring you back this is what I want you to tell the media.’ They called me five minutes later and said ‘We need to see you.’ Because of my faith I never got down. When you’re acting in God’s favor, you know what’s coming. You know how to deal in the trenches when it gets tough. That’s where God teaches lessons from.”

Clayton may stay even if Barden comes back. But for Clayton, it’s opportunities like the ones on Saturday that now overshadow the ones that come on Sundays.

“I’m in a position to lead younger players, to help older players, to be a leader in this locker room,” Clayton said. “It’s opportunities like (speaking at chapel), those things are bigger than football. To able to speak to a team of your brothers, to inspire them and give them a word they can take for the rest of their lives, that’s bigger than football. If He brought me back here just for that one chapel, that makes me happy. That satisfies me.”

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