Patriots Claim Injured Tight End Jake Ballard Off Waivers

BOSTON (CBS) — With Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, the Patriots have perhaps the best tight end group in the NFL. For Bill Belichick, though, that’s just not enough.

According to Ballard’s agent, the Patriots claimed injured Giants tight end Jake Ballard off waivers on Tuesday.

Ballard, 24, suffered a knee injury during the Giants’ Super Bowl win over the Patriots in February, one that was appeared to be worsened when he attempted to run on the sideline after leaving the game. He underwent surgery to repair his ACL and then underwent microfracture surgery to repair torn cartilage.

The Giants waived Ballard on Monday, reportedly with the plan of keeping him on the roster after clearing waivers. However, Belichick and the Patriots swooped in to claim him.

Belichick saw firsthand the kind of impact Ballard can have on a game, as the tight end hauled in the game-winning pass in the Giants’ regular-season visit to Foxborough in November. Ballard had four catches for 67 yards that day.

In 14 games last season, Ballard caught 38 passes for 604 yards and four touchdowns, while adding another five catches for 43 yards in three playoff games before suffering the injury in the Super Bowl.

Given his offseason surgeries, it’s unlikely Ballard will be able to play at all in the 2012 season. In addition to Gronkowski and Hernandez, the Patriots also have Bo Scaife and Daniel Fells on the roster at the tight end position.

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