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TE Ballard working hard to return


Aside from a quality defense, part of the reason Eli Manning completed just nine passes against the Jets was the absence of wide receiver Mario Manningham and tight end Jake Ballard.

Tom Coughlin categorized the two players both battling knee injuries as "questionable to start the week."

Ballard, No. 3 on the team in receiving yards (604) and touchdowns (4), updated his own status on Monday.

"It is getting better every day," he said. "It is day-to-day. I am going to keep rehabbing and try to build the strength up and hopefully be able to go. We will see."

Along with Manningham, a Ballard return would be particularly inspiring, given his success in Dallas three weeks ago. Ballard had four catches for 52 yards and a late eight-yard touchdown that cut the Giants' deficit to one possession with 3:14 remaining in the game.

"Yes, we feel like we know them pretty well and what they are going to try to do to affect us," Ballard said about the Cowboys. "We are going to do what we do and, obviously, play better than we have the last couple weeks. This is a playoff game for us."

Ballard said little on if he has a shot to play on Sunday night, but did mention he hasn't run on the bad knee yet.

With Ballard and Manningham out, wide receiver Ramses Barden saw extended action against the Jets. He was targeted five times, but made just one catch for four yards midway through the second quarter. Meanwhile, tight ends Travis Beckum and Bear Pascoe had zero receptions.

"Jake's a quality player, and we appreciate the additions and dependability that he gives us," Barden said. "But we're confident that there's always somebody that can step up in somebody else's absence and come up with big plays. As an offense, we might not have had the best game. I know I didn't personally, and there are some things I want to get taken care of. It's going to be a diligent week as far as preparations are concerned."

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