New England Patriots: Will Jake Ballard Make the Roster?


New England Patriots tight end Jake Ballard is unfortunately moving on a slow pace throughout training camp due to his surgically repaired knee. After suffering a torn ACL in the Super Bowl in 2012, two months later, Ballard needed microfracture surgery on the injured knee. Ballard was under the impression to need eight to nine months to recover from the torn ACL and an additional six weeks to recover from the microfracture surgery which repairs the damaged cartilage.

Feb 5, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New York Giants tight end Jake Ballard catches a pass on the field before Super Bowl XLVI against the New England Patriots at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Just before training camp started, Ballard was removed the PUP list and we had high hopes he would have a successful training camp. After spending a few days in the field, Ballard started to show problems. It was noted by ESPN Boston Mike Reiss that is obvious Ballard is less than 100 percent. Also, ESPN Chris Mortensen reported on NFL Insiders suggesting that Ballard runs the risk of not making the roster due to his struggles during training camp. It has been about a year-and-a-half since the surgery, and one would think his knee would be ready by now.  But that tells us how hard it is to recover from a torn ACL; add a microfracture surgery on top of that, and makes me wonder if there is a chance he could return to his previous form before the injury, or is this as good as he gets. Obviously, this is just my humble curiosity. I certainly hope he can get better than he is right now because Ballard is only 25 and he is a beast at the tight end position. I would love to see him playing with Rob Gronkowski.

If Gronkowski begins the season on the six-week PUP list, it opens up a roster spot at tight end giving some flexibility for the Patriots to have Zach Sudfeld, Michael Hoomanawanui, Daniel Fells and Jake Ballard. If that’s the scenario, I believe it will benefit Gronkowski (allowing him more time for recovery and strengthening) and benefits the team with a strong tight end core without Gronkowski for the first six weeks of the season. At this time, Sudfeld athleticism looks promising, and with Fells blocking ability and Hoo-Man reliability, there is somewhat a balance at the tight end position.

GMen HQ Editor and Lead Blogger Joe Tufaro (one of Fansided websites) wrote this interesting piece on the possibility of Jake Ballard returning to the New York Giants. Since the Patriots acquired Ballard off of waivers, the Giants could benefit by getting Ballard back if the Patriots decide to release him. If Ballard just needs extra time to recoup, it’s possible the Patriots would not release such a talented tight end. But then again, how much more time are the Patriots willing to invest? He might not start the season right off the bat, but there is a possibility he still has potential to regain his strength back and be in his promising former form; unless, the medical staff sees it otherwise and Belichick has no other option but to let him go.

On a good note, ESPN Boston Mike Reiss mentions that Ballard seems to be running better than end of last week during today’s joint practice with Philadelphia Eagles.

Follow @celiawestbrook