The Patriots are going to be short on tight ends during practices early in camp.
Rob Gronkowski and Jake Ballard have both been placed on the physically unable to perform list to start camp, which bars them from practicing with the rest of the team until they drop the designation. No one should be surprised by either move.
Gronkowski was never expected to be full speed to open camp after having back and forearm surgeries this offseason and placing him on the PUP list in camp keeps open the possibility of having him on the list for the regular season if he won’t be ready to play in the first six weeks. Ballard has been rehabbing from a very serious knee injury for a year and a half and his movements during spring work didn’t draw too many compliments from media watching the workouts, although Ballard’s still been mentioned as a potential beneficiary of Aaron Hernandez’s absence.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman is also on the PUP list as he continues his recovery from foot surgery. As the only wide receiver with extensive prior experience in the Patriots offense, Edelman could earn a sizable role in the offense once he’s able to return to the field.
Offensive lineman Nick McDonald is also on the PUP list, which defensive lineman Armond Armstead wound up on the non-football illness list. All players are eligible to come off the lists at any time this summer.