The Giants medical staff had examined Jake Ballard and thought he had torn his meniscus, not his ACL, when he went down in the fourth quarter of the Giants’ Super Bowl XLVI victory. But that was reason enough to try to go back out there — even if he was experiencing the worst pain of his life.
The trainers watched and NBC cameras filmed as Ballard tested his knee on the side. He doesn’t know exactly what happened, but he thinks he already had torn his ACL, then damaged cartilage when his knee buckled while testing it.
Ballard, 24, underwent microfracture surgery to repair the cartilage as well as surgery to repair his torn ACL in February, casting doubt on when – or if – he will return for the 2012 season.
"My knee just collapsed," Ballard said Monday night in a phone interview, a week before the Giants begin OTAs. "I definitely tore [my ACL] on the field. I’d say [the cartilage damage] probably happened on the sideline from trying to run with no ACL.
"But I don’t regret trying to get back in the game. It’s the biggest game in any football player’s career."
Since he was injured so late in the season, it's doubtful that Ballard will be able to make much of a fantasy impact in 2012. Travis Beckum is also recovering from ACL surgery, so the Giants signed Martellus Bennett, who has been playing in Jason Witten's shadow in Dallas for the last four years. In the last two seasons, Bennett has caught 50 passes (on 74 targets) for 404 yards and zero TDs. Bennett wasn't used much in Dallas other than in the occasional TE screen. Bennett could be a sleeper given the way Eli Manning likes to utilize his TE, provided the Giants elect not to bring in another quality option at the position.