It might be 2013 before Ballard can return to the field. (AP)

While the Giants defied a number of odds to beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, overcoming the loss of tight ends Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum to injury in the game was an impressive achievement. Both tore their ACLs in the game, leaving the Giants with only one tight end in Bear Pascoe on the roster.

While Beckum probably will begin the year on the Physically Unable to Perform list, Ballard might be gone much longer than that. In fact, according to the Bergen Record, his entire 2012 season is in jeopardy after Ballard underwent microfracture surgery.

If that seems extreme, it might be because the original diagnosis of Ballard’s knee was that he tore cartilage. That’s why he tested his knee on the sideline of Lucas Oil Stadium in an attempt to see if he could return to the game.

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But now Ballard believes he already had torn his ACL during the game, and when his knee buckled while he was testing it, he might have damaged the cartilage.

"I definitely felt it rip and heard it pop," Ballard told the paper. "I felt like I ripped everything and broke everything. But it was the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. I wasn’t not going to try to get back out there … My knee just collapsed. I definitely tore [my ACL] on the field. I’d say [the cartilage damage] probably happened on the sideline from trying to run with no ACL. But I don’t regret trying to get back in the game. It’s the biggest game in any football player’s career."

Considering microfracture surgery has a long recovery period as doctors try to force his knee to regenerate new cartilage, it might cost Ballard the entire next season. Ballard doesn't think so, though.

In response to the injuries suffered by Beckum and Ballard, the Giants signed Martellus Bennett earlier this offseason to a one-year deal.

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