Arians: Ballard's knee was bone-on-bone

GLENDALE, Ariz. – It pained Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians to watch Jake Ballard play football.

Not because of Ballard’s performance, but because of the knee pain Ballard was suffering through every play. It finally got to the point Tuesday when Ballard, a 27-year-old tight end who was entering his fifth season, decided to retire. He announced it Wednesday.

“You could tell it was getting worse instead of better,” Arians said. “He had a nice few OTAs where it looked like it was going to get better. But [in] the last MRI, he was bone on bone and there’s nothing he can do about it at his age.”

The torn ACL Ballard suffered in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis in 2012 caused him to miss the next season and a half, but knee issues predated that injury.

Ballard missed the final two games of the 2011 season with a PCL injury, according to an Associated Press story. Before the NFC Championship Game in 2011, Ballard underwent a “little procedure,” according to the story. Following the Super Bowl, the Giants waived him with the hopes that he’d go through waivers undetected and they could put him on injured reserve. The New England Patriots claimed Ballard, who didn’t play the entire 2012 season while recovering on the physically unable to perform list.

New England released him on Aug. 30, after he played during the preseason. Ballard spent the next two months on his couch waiting for a call. Finally, Arizona signed him on Nov. 4 and he played in eight games, starting three.

But apparently his knee never fully recovered. He missed Tuesday’s practice with a sore knee, according to Arians, and decided to retire the same day.