It’s been the Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez show since 2010, the much heralded duo that came into the NFL and produced immediately.
However, as offseason training activities begin, neither will be able to participate.
Enter Jake Ballard, the injured tight end the Patriots plucked off waivers from the New York Giants and allegedly pissed Tom Coughlin off big time.
At the time the move made little sense, but with Rob Gronkowski falling apart at the seams lately, and Aaron Hernandez’s shoulder surgery and history of injuries, Ballard looks more and more like an excellent move.
It’s the reason Bill Belichick tinkers with the bottom of his roster, always searching to upgrade, even if it is a third string tight end.
Coming off a knee injury suffered in the 2011 Super Bowl against the Patriots, Ballard take one step towards advancing his rehabilitation, and another on the depth chart.
According to Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald, Ballard is a must watch as OTAs get under way. Guregian writes:
‘The 6-foot-6, 275-pound tight end looked pretty good during the Giants Super Bowl season, catching 38 passes and scoring four TDs in the regular season. Whether the Pats opt to run two- or three-tight end sets, or Ballard has to fill in for Gronkowski, he figures to be a key player. He fits in the Gronk mold because he can block.’