MLB

Ballard seeking spot as Patriots TE

Share This Story

   
 

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP)

Jake Ballard knows he has a lot more work to do to complete his comeback from two knee operations and play in another NFL game.

The tight end, last seen making a catch for the New York Giants against New England in the Super Bowl almost 18 months ago, tore up his left knee on a hit by now-teammate Brandon Spikes on that play and hasn't played since.

Now, he's on the Patriots where he'll try to fill in in for the arrested Aaron Hernandez and the recovering Rob Gronkowski.

''I'm extremely excited to be out here on the practice field,'' Ballard said Saturday, after the team's second full workout. ''It's been so long since I've been able to play. It's just nice being out here being practicing with the guys I've been hanging around with for about a year now.

''I'm extremely excited for the season, but first I have to keep improving in training camp.''

The Patriots claimed Ballard, who had microfracture surgery on his knee as well as an ACL repair, after he was waived by the Giants. At the time, picking up a player who wasn't going to play seemed a bit odd. But now Ballard could turn out to be a gem of a signing.

''He was a starting tight end in the National Football League,'' Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Saturday. ''I don't think it was a big gamble. Good player at a young age, we played against him, he was a good player and he was available. I don't think it was a big gamble.''

Watching Ballard in practice, it's easy to see his step isn't quite right. Asked if he's running as well as he did before he got hurt, Ballard said, ''I don't know if I'll ever feel like that, but I definitely feel a lot better than I have, especially better than the OTAs. I feel like I'm running smoother, picking up a little bit more speed.

''The knee feels just a little weird and that's just because half of it is numb from the surgery anyway - all the nerves have been cut. I'm never going to feel like I was but I'm definitely feeling better the more I'm out here.''

The 6-for-6 Ballard, playing at 260 pounds, 18 pounds lighter than he was with the Giants, is part of a tight end picture that includes returnees Michael Hoomanawanui and Daniel Fells and rookie free agent Zach Sudfeld. And, of course, Gronkowski, even though no one really knows when he'll play after recovering from back surgery that followed four arm operations.

Ballard doesn't have a lock on a spot - but he's beaten the odds before. The Giants signed him out of Ohio State as an undrafted free agent and he went on to catch 38 passes for 604 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie on a Super Bowl-winning team.

''I just need to get better every day and just work on my route running and pass protection,'' he said.

NOTES: The Patriots held the second of three days of morning practice as the club worked around a pair of Taylor Swift concerts. There were nearly three dozen big trucks in the parking lot. . The Pats have their first day with full pads Sunday. . The defensive backs had a tough day in passing drills, with rookie wide receiver Aaron Dobson among those victimizing them deep. . Tim Tebow had another rough day throwing. . Former linebacker Tedy Bruschi and retiring broadcaster Gil Santos enter the Patriots Hall of Fame before a night practice Monday.

Tagged: Giants

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



MLB Videos

Bautista talks Derek Jeter's final All-Star Game Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Jose Bautista discusses Derek Jeter's career and his final appearance in the MLB...

Jeter honored to play in last All-Star Game Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Derek Jeter compares his first All-Star Game experience with his last, Mike Trou...

Matheny defends Wainwright: He's out there to compete Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Mike Matheny comments on the media's reaction to Adam Wainwright's joke about le...

SimLeague Baseball - Simulation Baseball Game

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike New York Yankees Practice T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Yankees/browse/featuredproduct/606363/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_606000/ff_606363_xl.jpg&w=100 27.95 Nike New York Yankees Practice T-Shirt - Ash
    Majestic Detroit Tigers 2012 MLB American League Champions Clubhouse Locker Room T-Shirt - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Detroit_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/1064043/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1064000/ff_1064043_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Majestic Detroit Tigers 2012 MLB American League Champions Clubhouse Locker Room..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room T-Shirt - Gray http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067359/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067359_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker R..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room Pullover Hoodie - Steel http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067382/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067382_xl.jpg&w=100 54.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker R..
    New Era San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room 39THIRTY Flex Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067785/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067785_xl.jpg&w=100 31.95 New Era San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Ro..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Glory T-Shirt - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1068294/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1068000/ff_1068294_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Glory T-Shirt - Bl..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Batting Practice Performance Jersey - Black/Orange http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1068787/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1068000/ff_1068787_xl.jpg&w=100 94.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Batting Practice P..