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New England Patriots: With Aaron Hernandez Gone, Can TE Jake Ballard Step Up?

Due to the recent arrest and arraignment of former tight end Aaron Hernandez, could tight end Jake Ballard see some playing time with the New England Patriots?

Ballard, an undrafted free agent out of Ohio State in 2010, the three-year veteran caught 38 passes for 604 yards and four touchdowns for the Giants in the 2011-12 season for the New York Giants, would be signed by the Patriots after the 2012-13 season to add depth to their plethora of tight ends.

Currently listed as No. 2 above Daniel Fells, Michael Hoomanawanui and behind starter Rob Gronkowski, who is now in the midst of a 12-week recovery from herniated back surgery, Ballard has the tools, skills and ability to make plays on offense, block and become a vital weapon in Bill Belichick’s vaunted two tight-end system.

At 6’6 and 275 pounds, the 25-year-old Ballard may not have the freakish all-around athleticism of Hernandez—nor his penchant for firearms—but instead offers an inviting red-zone target for quarterback Tom Brady to use, as well as create mismatches in the passing game.

As New England got to witness all too well in a November home game against Ballard when he was with the Giants.

With the Giants, Ballard would catch the game-winning one-yard touchdown catch with 17 seconds left in a Week 9 24-20 win at Foxboro against the Patriots.  In the Super Bowl XLVI rematch against the Patriots, Ballard would record two receptions for ten yards before leaving the game with a torn ACL in his left knee.

Going forward, with Hernandez gone and Gronkowski recovering from injury, Ballard has a golden opportunity to showcase his talents in a much more up-tempo and tight-end friendly system in New England.

What will happen to Ballard once Gronkowski returns remains to be seen, but with the All-Pro most likely to draw double-teams on the field, look for Ballard to take advantage in single coverage and have a breakout year for the Patriots.

Robert D. Cobb is the Founder/CEO/Senior Editor-In-Chief Of The Inscriber : Digital Magazine, for questions, comments and concerns email me at robcobb@theinscriber.com follow me on Twitter @RC_TheInscriber and follow The Inscriber : Digital Magazine on Twitter at @TheInscriber

Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com

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