Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Jake Ballard's stock wavering early in camp


Even before Aaron Hernandez was arrested for murder and while Rob Gronkowski was in the midst of recovering from his fourth surgery in less than a year, Jake Ballard was a potential impact player for the New England Patriots' tight end-friendly offense.

After being signed by the Patriots last year, the former New York Giant spent all of last season recovering from a knee injury he acquired at the end of the team's 2011 campaign, but he's been on schedule for a return to the field at a time when his new team could use the help. (photo: Mike Morbeck, Flickr)

Since the beginning of this offseason, word surrounding Ballard has been mixed.

Ballard, who caught 38 passes for 604 yards and four touchdowns with Big Blue in 2011, was thought of as a serviceable stopgap for a team that used to boast the league's best TE tandem. However, he was described by reporters earlier this week as "slogging" and "rigid" during his practice time with the team.

The Patriots put Ballard on the Physically Unable to Perform list Monday, which confirmed that he's still moving gingerly. But then, Ballard was taken off the PUP list Tuesday after passing his physical, according to ESPN Boston.

Ballard is eligible to take the field Thursday when the veterans begin practicing. We'll know soon if he's capable of handling all the tight end snaps that are currently up for grabs in Foxborough.

Follow Nick @NickStDenis
Follow AFC East Daily @AFCEastDaily