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Jake Ballard tore his ACL in the Super Bowl

Jake Ballard AP

The Giants are going to need to add a couple of tight ends this offseason.

While the team was wrapping up their dual celebrations in Manhattan and East Rutherford on Tuesday afternoon, they announced that tight end Jake Ballard tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the Super Bowl. Ballard was helped off the field and cameras caught him on the sideline as he tried to run, an attempt that ended with a spill into the arms of a member of the team’s medical staff. The team made the announcement via Twitter without any treatment details, but Ballard, who also has a partially torn PCL in his other knee, will have to have surgery and face a long rehab that will keep him out of action for quite a while.

The same is true of Ballard’s fellow tight end Travis Beckum, who also tore an ACL during the victory over the Patriots. Having the injury so late in the year means that the Giants can’t really count on either player for the start of next season. That should make tight end a priority for the champs during free agency and the draft as Bear Pascoe is the only other tight end currently on the roster.

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Giants tight end Travis Beckum tears ACL in Super Bowl

New York Giants Beckum celebrates with fans after they defeated the Green Bay Packers during their NFL NFC Divisional playoff football game in Green Bay Reuters

Giants tight end Travis Beckum tore his right ACL in the first half of Sunday’s Super Bowl game against the Patriots, NBC’s Michele Tafoya reported.

Known for his receiving skills, Beckum managed just five receptions during the regular season, though he’s caught seven balls so far in the postseason.

The Giants will roll with Jake Ballard and Bear Pascoe at the position for the rest of the game.

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Hines Ward recovering from ankle surgery

Hines Ward AP

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward is recovering from surgery to repair bone fragments in his ankle.

It’s the latest bit of confirmation that Ward intends to play football in 2012. He may have passed on the procedure if his career were over.

As to whether he’ll return to Pittsburgh, Ward has publicly put the ball in the Steelers’ court. He met face-to-face with coach Mike Tomlin and owner Art Rooney this week.

“They really didn’t say anything [definitively],” Ward told the Post-Gazette. “It wasn’t good, it wasn’t bad. We were just talking.”

In order to remain a Steeler, Ward will have to take a significant cut in pay. He’s owed a $4 million base salary, the Steelers are well over the cap, and Ward would enter the 2012 season as no better than the team’s No. 4 receiver.

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Rob Gronkowski misses practice

New England Patriots tight end Gronkowski slaps hands with a reporter during media day for the NFL Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis Reuters

The Patriots released their official practice participation report for Wednesday and, as expected, tight end Rob Gronkowski didn’t take part.

Gronkowski has not been wearing the walking boot to protect his sprained left ankle that he was sporting last week, but the injury is still too much for him to take part in practice. There are two more practices this week and Gronkowski’s status for those sessions is unknown. The team is investigating a special cleat for him to wear on Sunday, but all indications remain that he will be on the field.

Tackle Matt Light, who missed Tuesday’s media day with an illness, was a full participant. Tackle Sebastian Vollmer was limited with the rarely seen flu/back/foot combo. Wide receiver Wes Welker, linebacker Brandon Spikes and guard Logan Mankins highlighted a list of nine other limited Patriots, but they and Vollmer are also expected to suit up come Sunday.

On the Giants side, nobody missed practice. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw, wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, defensive end Osi Umenyiora, cornerback Corey Webster and linebacker Jacquian Williams were all limited. Like the limited Patriots, all are expected to play.

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Gronkowski out of walking boot, Matt Light sick

New England Patriots' Gronkowski is tackled by Baltimore Ravens' Pollard in the third quarter during the NFL AFC Championship football game in Foxborough Reuters

Team PFT is out at Super Bowl Media Day and we’ll have plenty from the event throughout Tuesday, but a couple of early notes merit a mention before they start filing their dispatches.

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski isn’t wearing the walking boot he has been seen with several times since spraining his ankle against the Ravens in the AFC Championship game. Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston shared this shot of Gronkowski’s feet in sneakers, something that should make Patriots fans happy. Gronkowski said that the boot came off on Monday. While he’s likely to still feel the effects of the injury, there doesn’t seem to be much chance he’ll miss the game.

Tackle Matt Light is not taking part in Media Day. His appearance was scrubbed because of illness, according to Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald, and there haven’t been any updates as to the type or severity of the illness at this point. That means we’ll be denied any further discussion about his relationship with Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora.

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Paul Posluszny out until camp after shoulder surgery

Fred Jackson, Paul Posluszny AP

Until the final game of the season, Paul Posluszny’s first season in Jacksonville was one of his healthiest as a professional player.

The linebacker had to leave the season finale with the Colts early after tearing the labrum in his left shoulder and the injury is going to keep him from full participation in the team’s offseason activities. Posluszny had surgery to repair the injury this month, Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union reports, and the rehab will keep him limited until training camp.

With Mel Tucker returning as the team’s defensive coordinator, Posluszny won’t miss too much during his time on the sidelines. The team’s defensive scheme figures to be the same as it was this year, when Posluszny was a key cog in the machine. He led the team with 119 tackles and picked up two sacks and two interceptions.

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Seven Giants miss practice

NFC Championship Football AP

The Giants got back to work on the field Thursday, but seven members of the team weren’t able to practice.

Hakeem Nicks, Corey Webster, Ahmad Bradshaw and David Baas were the biggest names on the list. Nicks sat out with the shoulder injury that caused him to miss some time in the NFC Championship Game victory. Nicks returned to the game and there doesn’t seem to be much worry that he’ll be compromised for the Super Bowl.

Baas also missed time during the 49ers game with an abdominal injury. He is also listed on the injury report with a neck injury that has caused him trouble at various points during the season. He told Conor Orr of the Newark Star-Ledger that he expects to be back on the field Friday.

“I got my neck issue and it should be fine,” Baas said. “I mean, massage, ice all the normal stuff. But yeah, it’ll be good, should be back out there tomorrow doing stuff.”

Bradshaw has practiced infrequently since missing time with a foot injury earlier this season and Webster is dealing with a hamstring injury. Both are considered precautionary measures to make sure the players are in top condition when Super Bowl Sunday rolls around. The other Giants who didn’t practice are linebacker Chase Blackburn, punt returner Will Blackmon and linebacker Mark Herzlich.

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Patriots remove Tom Brady from the injury report

Tom Brady, Wes Welker AP

Even though Tom Brady missed practice Wednesday with a left shoulder injury, there was never much doubt that he would be on the field for the AFC Championship Game.

The Patriots confirmed that Friday when they released their final injury report. Brady is nowhere to be found as the team chose not to even bother listing him as probable. If you want to get all existential about things, even the healthiest of players could be listed as probable, at best, but that’s not really the standard the NFL prefers teams work with when it comes to the injury report.

Fourteen members of the Patriots are listed as questionable, including tight end Aaron Hernandez and wide receiver Wes Welker. The only one of the 14 whose status really seems to be in doubt is tackle Sebastian Vollmer. Vollmer hasn’t played since Week 12 because of back and foot injuries and there’s no sign that his return to the lineup is imminent. The rest of the questionable players should play in a repeat of last week when 12 of the 13 questionable Patriots were active against the Broncos.

While the Patriots put a lot of guys likely to play on their injury report, the Ravens went the other direction. Safety Ed Reed is listed as probable and he makes up a one-man injury report for the AFC North champs.

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David Baas misses practice, Jake Ballard undergoes procedure

New York Jets v New York Giants Getty Images

There appears to be a stomach bug passing among the Giants players as they prepare for the NFC Championship Game.

Eli Manning had to leave practice on Wednesday because of a little intestinal distress and center David Baas couldn’t practice on Friday for the same reason. He’s listed as probable for Sunday’s game, which makes it seem like the bug spreading is a bigger fear than any impact it might have on Baas’ play.

Of more concern is tight end Jake Ballard. Ballard is listed as questionable for Sunday with a knee injury and Tom Coughlin told reporters that Ballard had a procedure on the knee Thursday. Mike Garafolo of the Newark Star-Ledger reports that the procedure wasn’t surgery. Ballard missed the final two games of the regular season with a knee sprain and he has not looked 100 percent in either of the team’s first two playoff games.

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Delanie Walker returns to practice for 49ers

New York Giants v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

Delanie Walker led all 49ers receivers with six catches for 69 yards in their 27-20 win over the Giants during the regular season.

After missing the last two games with a broken jaw, it’s looking like Walker will have a chance to play in the rematch. Walker was back on the practice field Wednesday for the first time since getting hurt in Week 16 against the Seahawks. According to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, Walker wore a black jersey that made him off limits to contact. Walker played a lot before his injury as part of the two tight end sets that the 49ers like to use and he would be a useful addition to the lineup should he be cleared to go on Sunday.

The 49ers were missing wide receiver Ted Ginn, who is battling leg injuries, at practice Wednesday. Defensive tackle Ray McDonald worked out on the side because of a hamstring injury that forced him to play less than his usual amount against the Saints. He was limited in practice last week as well, so he remains a good bet to play in some fashion on Sunday.

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Roman Harper probable for Saturday afternoon

Detroit Lions quarterback Stafford scores a touchdown as New Orleans Saints' Harper defends on the play in the third quarter of their NFL NFC wildcard playoff football game in New Orleans Reuters

When Roman Harper missed practice earlier this week, there was some fear that the Saints would have to face the 49ers without their starting safety.

That fear has mostly disappeared with the release of the final injury report of the week. Harper is listed as probable with an ankle injury. He was limited in practice on Friday, but all signs are that he will be in the lineup as New Orleans goes for the first road playoff win in franchise history.

As expected, wide receiver Lance Moore is out again with a hamstring injury. Linebacker Jonathan Casillas, who missed the Detroit game, is questionable and both linebacker Jonathan Vilma and wide receiver Robert Meachem are probable.

The 49ers listed five players as questionable, although they haven’t been listing players as probable for a few weeks now. According to Matt Maiocco of, tight end Delanie Walker will not play because of a broken jaw, but the other four players — cornerback Chris Culliver, defensive tackle Ray McDonald and wide receivers Ted Ginn and Kyle Williams — are expected to be in the lineup on Saturday afternoon.

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Jahvid Best: I’ll be back next season

Lions running back Jahvid Best celebrates 88 yard touchdown run against Chicago Bears in third quarter of NFL football game in Detroit Reuters

Jahvid Best missed the final 10 games of the regular season after suffering a concussion, but still led the team with 390 rushing yards.

That tells you Detroit was never able to fully replace his presence in the lineup, something that Best says won’t be a problem next year. Best told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press that he’s no longer bothered by concussion symptoms and that he will “definitely” be back on the field next season. With Mikel Leshoure, who missed his entire rookie season with an Achilles injury, the Lions should be better on the ground next year.

Recovering from this concussion is only part of the problem for Best. He has a history of concussions dating back to his college days and struggled with other injuries as a rookie. For his part, Best says he isn’t worried about any more concussion issues in the future.

“Other people probably are, but I’m not,” Best said.

With Best and Leshoure coming off injuries, the Lions will probably look to shore up the running back position before next season. Kevin Smith and Maurice Morris are both free agents who could return or the team could look elsewhere to make sure that their offense isn’t hindered by losses in the backfield next season.

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Lance Moore ruled out for Saturday

Lance Moore, Alphonso Smith AP

The Lions defense won’t have to worry about Lance Moore, who scored a touchdown against them in the regular season, on Saturday night.

The Saints ruled the wide receiver out with the hamstring injury that’s been bothering him for several weeks. Moore missed the season finale against the Panthers and has been bothered by the injury since before the Week 16 game against the Falcons. Adrian Arrington could see a bit more playing time as the result of Moore’s injury, but the Saints aren’t really at a loss when it comes to targets for Drew Brees.

Linebacker Jonathan Casillas and tight end John Gilmore were also ruled out for the Saints. Four Saints, including linebacker Jonathan Vilma, are listed as probable.

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Falcons, Giants pretty healthy for Sunday’s clash

Steve Smith, Brent Grimes AP

The Falcons and Giants released their final injury reports of the week on Friday and both teams are looking pretty healthy in advance of their playoff matchup.

The biggest concern for the Falcons is cornerback Brent Grimes. Grimes has missed four of the last five games with a knee injury and is listed as questionable. He was a limited participant in practice on Friday, though, so the hope in Atlanta is that he’ll be able to get on the field. If he can’t, Dominique Franks would move into the lineup and the Giants would get an advantage when they look to throw the ball downfield.

Linebacker Stephen Nicholas is doubtful thanks to a toe injury. He also missed four of the final five games of the season, although the Falcons didn’t see a significant dropoff in play with Spencer Adkins in his place. There were 18 Falcons listed as probable.

The Giants only had one player who wasn’t listed as probable, a good sign for a team that has been beset by injuries all season. Linebacker Mark Herzlich is out, but it looks like tight end Jake Ballard will be back on the field for the home side after missing the final two games of the regular season.

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Ahmad Bradshaw doesn’t practice for Giants, Jake Ballard does

Jake Ballard, Tarell Brown AP

Eli Manning could be getting another target back in time for Sunday’s playoff game with the Falcons.

Tight end Jake Ballard, who missed the last two games of the regular season with a knee injury, got back on the practice field Wednesday. Ballard was limited and, per Jorge Castillo of the Newark Star-Ledger, will get a better idea of his chances of playing during Thursday’s session.

“From last to this week, I definitely feel a lot more confident in my knee,” Ballard said. “I’ll be taking a lot more reps tomorrow and I’ll have more of an idea of what’s going to happen.”

Another key Giants offensive player wasn’t able to practice on Wednesday, however. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw wasn’t on the field and isn’t expected to practice until Friday. That’s nothing new for Bradshaw as his foot problems have limited his practice availability for much of the season but he’s been able to get on the field for each of the last five games.

If Bradshaw and Ballard can both play, the Giants will take the field on Sunday as healthy as they have been all season.

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