The uncertainty with the New England Patriots surrounding their complement of tight ends has seemingly never been higher. Given the amount of talent and production that we have seen from that position with the team in recent seasons, it seems ridiculous to say that anything is uncertain except for maybe how many touchdowns they will be scoring in the year ahead.
Now that Aaron Hernandez is going to be charged with at least obstruction of justice in the ongoing homicide investigation in Massachusetts, not to mention his pending lawsuit for shooting a man in the face, and Rob Gronkowski is undergoing who knows how many surgeries this offseason, the Pats have some serious questions that need to be answered.
While many pointed to the signing of Tim Tebow as a sign of the times with the issues at tight end, the real hidden gem could prove to be the addition of Jake Ballard. Even though the Pats snagged him last summer when the New York Giants placed him on injured reserve due to a season-ending ACL injury, his addition to the team will be a new one for New England. Ballard spent all of last year on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list and will see his first action as a Patriot in 2013.
Obviously the Patriots have always had quite an affinity for tight ends as they are one of only two other teams in the NFL to carry seven on their roster. Given the uncertainty with the top two, Ballard is the next in line for some serious playing time. Michael Hoomanawanui, Daniel Fells, Zach Sudfeld, and Brandon Ford are all on the depth chart as well, but there is no reason to think any of them will see the field over Ballard.
During his 2011 campaign with the Giants, Ballard compiled an impressive statistical season with 38 catches for 604 yards and four touchdowns. He has the potential to really excel with a great quarterback like Tom Brady who loves to target tight ends in the red zone.
Let’s just be honest here. If Steve Urkel thinks you are in line for a huge season, chances are good you are going to make some waves.
I rest my case.