For Jake Ballard, last year was like being a rookie again.
But instead of working as a member of the Giants practice squad when he knew he wouldn’t play, he was rehabbing with a team he barely knew, after being claimed by the Patriots shortly after tearing his ACL.
Now, he’s getting plenty of work, but he admitted it took him some time to get used to the idea he played in New England and not New York.
“Absolutely. The first couple of days it was kind of shocking and abrupt,” Ballard said, via Field Yates of ESPNBoston.com. “I heard [about being claimed] and the next morning I was on a plane to Boston, it was pretty crazy.
“I’m absolutely a Patriot through and through. I enjoy being here, I enjoy being around the coaches and everybody is great.”
He admitted the layoff helped, giving him a year to absorb a new playbook when he knew he wouldn’t be playing.
“I think it helps tremendously,” he said. “My first year I was on the practice squad in New York and I had a chance to study that offense for a year then came out the next year and played. It’s kind of like the same thing here, I was watching all of last year and just looking over the playbook and mainly doing rehab, but I got a sense of what the offense was about and now with the OTAs and our meeting sessions, it’s really helped a lot.
“The mental aspect of the game is the easy part. I’m just trying to get out here and feel comfortable again running again, playing with guys I haven’t played with and playing against defensive guys I’ve only played against a couple of times.”
While he looked like an unusual pickup last year, the Patriots could end up needing him this year. And having his knee healed and the time to get him trained in their ways will only help.