The New England Patriots have been accustomed to having two top pass-catching tight ends and one or two solid blocking TEs behind those two, but the rich are set to get richer next season as the Patriots will have Jake Ballard in the fold to give them a triumvirate of top pass-catching TEs. Ballard’s recovery from his ACL and microfracture surgery a year-and-a-half ago has gone well, and Ballard is poised to be Rob Gronkowski‘s primary backup as a “traditional” tight end in the Pats offense.
According to Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston, the Patriots obviously “plan to keep” Ballard, and Reiss thinks the team is “high on his potential contributions” with the caveat there being Ballard’s health.
At 25 the former New York Giants and Ohio State Buckeyes standout should be able to have a full recovery from the severe knee injury, and it will be interesting to see how many targets Jake Ballard receives in the Patriots offense. I believe Reiss when he says the Patriots are high on Ballard, because he caught 38 passes for 604 yards and four touchdowns in his first full season with the Giants. Those are solid numbers, and that’s quite excellent for a No. 3 (or even No. 2, considering many of view don’t list Aaron Hernandez as a TE) tight end.
It is important for Ballard to have a good enough recovery, and it sounds things are moving in the right direction on the health front from what we’ve heard from Reiss. Ballard should be in for a solid year in 2013, and the fact that the Patriots are high on him means that teams around the league need to watch out for sure.
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