NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Jake Ballard was hoping it wasn't serious when he went down with a left knee injury in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.
After the 21-17 win, he was initially encouraged to hear that the feeling was he injured his meniscus.
But after undergoing an MRI, the tight end got much worse news with a torn ACL.
"I was pretty surprised," Ballard said after an autograph signing for Steiner Sports. "[After] the MRI, the doc came in with a look on his face and I just knew it wasn't my meniscus. So it was pretty frustrating."
General manager Jerry Reese said Ballard and tight end Travis Beckum will likely start the 2012 season on the physically unable to perform list. Beckum tore his ACL in the Super Bowl as well.
"Six-to-eight months and they're going to try and make it for the beginning of the season but if not a good chance at PUP," Ballard said of an optimistic timetable for recovery. "I definitely don't want to go out there too early and hurt it again so if I get eight, nine months to prepare, I'm fine with that."
"Clint Sintim came back too early and he might not have been ready and he hurt it again," Ballard added of the linebacker who tore his ACL in the preseason after tearing his ACL in December of 2010. "So we're going to play it by ear and I'm going to bust my butt to try and make it by the beginning of the season."
Both Beckum and Ballard will undergo surgery on Feb. 21. It was a bittersweet ending to a breakout season for Ballard. He emerged as Eli Manning's top tight end, replacing Kevin Boss.
But Ballard injured his right PCL late in the season and fought through it in the playoffs.
Tearing his ACL in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl was painful in more ways than one.
"It's the biggest game of anyone's life," said Ballard, an exclusive rights free agent who will re-sign with the team. "To get hurt in it and can't contribute in the end when the game's on the line, it's like a nightmare. But they came through in the end and we still got that ring."
Ballard tried to get back into the game and attempted to run on the knee on the sideline before falling in pain.
"Probably the worst pain I've ever had in my life," he said. "But what was I going to do? Not try to go back in?"