Friday, February 22, 2013
TE shenanigans in New England
By Tim Kavanagh
With Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski on the roster, the New England Patriots showed the rest of the NFL what a team could do when they featured two V2.0 TEs in the offense. And there's a chance we haven't seen the full version of the TE-centric offense yet.
As you'll recall, the Pats claimed TE Jake Ballard when the New York Giants attempted to waive him last offseason with an ACL injury. The Giants were upset at the development, as Ballard had racked up 604 yards on 38 catches with four TDs during the 2011 campaign. For the Pats, he's a wild card for 2013, in the words of Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald:
"Inserting Ballard into the No. 2 tight end role would allow the Pats to employ Hernandez any number of ways, including the slot, if that's what's necessary. If the Pats can't reach an agreement with Wes Welker, then Hernandez, whose offseason plan is to work out with Tom Brady in California, can be utilized running the same patterns. That is why having another very good tight end next to Gronkowski is a great idea. It makes Hernandez even more dangerous. And who knows what problems Ballard might pose?"
Guregian doesn't rule out the addition of yet another TE through the draft or free agency, though that might be pushing it. What the team could use instead is an outside WR that can take the top off a defense, opening things up for Gronk and Friends underneath. Either way, this is going to be a fun experiment to monitor next season.