The Cardinals’ logjam at tight end was lessened Wednesday when veteran Jake Ballard — who had already missed a couple of days of practice with a sore knee — decided to retire with his ongoing knee issues. Ballard’s career was derailed when he blew out his knee in the Giants’ Super Bowl win over the Patriots after the 2011 season. In a statement released through profootballtalk.com, Ballard said that knee injury was too much to overcome.
“I love this game and have put my heart and soul into it for as long as I can remember,” Ballard’s statement read in part. “After sustaining a serious knee injury while playing for the New York Giants in the Super Bowl, my body never felt the same. Having a quality of life after football is very important to me and I have witnessed it taken away from others. I will miss the game tremendously, but I am ready for this next chapter in my life.”
It’s too bad. Ballard is a good guy who came up with a couple of big plays for the Cardinals after signing last season, including a crucial catch in the game-winning drive in Seattle (seen below). Just a few months ago, he was saying that he already felt better on the field than he did last season. “I feel like I am almost back to my old self. And that’s a relief.” Apparently, that good feeling didn’t last.
“It was an honor and a privilege to play for the NY Giants, New England Patriots, and most recently the Arizona Cardinals,” Ballard’s statement continued. “I met amazing people from all of my teammates, to opponents, to trainers, to coaches, to owners, and everyone in between. I thank you for allowing me to be a part of your fraternity and I wish you all nothing but success.”
Big picture, it’s hard to know if there is any cause-and-effect whether Ballard’s decision — or the troubles it was giving him in camp — had anything to do with how Darren Fells has been playing or the prism within which coach Bruce Arians has seen Fells as he praised him publicly the last few days. Knowing the Cardinals will have four tight ends on the roster, it seems like a quartet of John Carlson, Rob Housler, Troy Niklas and Fells makes some sense.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Darren Fells, Jake Ballard, John Carlson, Rob Housler, Troy Niklas
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