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Giants, Coughlin Unhappy With Patriots Grabbing TE

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(Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

(Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ Tom Coughlin was in no mood to be
noble toward the New England Patriots for plucking injured tight
end Jake Ballard off the waiver wire.

Ballard, coming off ACL and micro-fracture surgery and likely
unavailable for action until 2013, was claimed shortly before
Tuesday’s opening workout of Giants minicamp, a day after he was
waived because of a failed physical. It was the Giants’ intention
to re-sign him and eventually place him on injured reserve, where
he would continue rehabilitation and anticipate a full recovery
next season.

But the Patriots beat them to it, leaving Coughlin displeased
with the entire situation on Wednesday.
“Discouraged is a minor description,” Coughlin said. “Very
disappointed.”

When it was suggested that the Giants might just have kept their
top pass-catching tight end from last season on the 90-man roster
to ensure keeping his contract rights, Coughlin shot back, “Don’t
ask me those questions. I don’t have the answer for you.”

What was depicted as a “calculated risk” by New England in
taking a fearless tight end who caught 38 passes for 604 yards and
four touchdowns last year was being viewed in some quarters as a
vindictive move by Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Of course, New
York defeated New England in the Super Bowl twice in the past five
years, and Belichick, a former defensive coordinator for the
Giants, did not get the head coaching position with New York in
1992, when Bill Parcells stepped down.

The Giants had hoped to keep Ballard around to compete with Bear
Pascoe. Newly acquired Martellus Bennett, fourth-round draft pick
Adrien Robinson, and first-year player Christian Hopkins are also
training camp hopefuls, while Travis Beckum anticipates a return
from ACL surgery in time for the regular season.
Losing Ballard proved more of an emotional shock than anything
for Pascoe.

“We said there was the possibility that Jake wouldn’t play this
year, but it’s still hard to see him go,” said Pascoe, who caught
12 passes for 136 yards last year. “He was surprised, but he
understands it. Jake will do well wherever he goes. He’s just
moving on.”

Pascoe, who has taken on more of a leadership role, said the
task now is for the active receivers to become effective _ not the
easiest thing to accomplish while Bennett, a former Cowboy,
recovers from a hamstring injury.

“I think I’ve built some good trust with Eli (Manning),”
Pascoe said. “Right now, it’s all about building on that trust.
He’s not worried about me. He knows I’ll be in the right spot. And
he knows the tight end group is solid.”

The quarterback was just as optimistic.

“We have some young guys, Martellus, some new guys, who are
coming into the system, so they’re trying to get caught up,”
Manning said. “They’re learning from Bear, so at least you have a
guy who’s been here a little bit and knows what’s going on.”

Coughlin would not have had Ballard for 2012, but that didn’t
lessen his feelings on the situation. In the end, though, he had to
admit that the Patriots did nothing outside the rules, except
perhaps those of front-office etiquette.

“I don’t think there’s any question about that part of it,”
Coughlin said. “Whatever the options are based on what the rules
are, based on the procedural circumstance, all is fair.”

Belichick, after New England’s second minicamp session on
Wednesday in Foxborough, Mass., wasn’t concerned with etiquette.

“There are no unwrittens,” he said. “You can’t negotiate a
contract with a player while he’s under contract. You can’t
negotiate a contract, release him then renegotiate another contract
with him that was already done in advance. I’m sure the Giants
weren’t doing that. (When) a player is on waivers, he’s on waivers
_ ours or anybody else’s.”

A reporter brought up the fact that Belichick was upset when the
Vikings claimed tight end and long snapper Garrett Mills in similar
fashion.

“I don’t know what unwrittens you’re talking about,” Belichick
said. “Anytime you put a player on waivers, you know there’s 31
teams out there that can take them, if they want him. We all know
that.

“There’s no secrets about that.”

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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