Next man up!
That is what you hear in sports all the time. Players are lost to injury or other circumstances, and someone else is asked to just step in and keep the wheels turning.
That is where second-year cornerback Corey Ballentine could find himself in 2020.
Ballentine could be a beneficiary of the legal mess DeAndre Baker currently finds himself in. Let’s take a closer look at the 24-year-old.
Contract status: Year 2 of four-year, $2.705 million contract (UFA: 2023)
How he got here
Ballentine was a sixth-round pick a year ago out Division 2 Washburn. He went through the tragedy of losing his friend and teammate in a drive-by shooting while attending a party the night Ballentine was drafted, an incident that also saw him be shot in the buttocks.
It took a while for Ballentine to see the field on defense. Other than returning kickoffs, which he did well (25.6 yards per return), Ballentine barely played early in the season. An outside corner in college, the Giants moved Ballentine to the slot the second half of the season to both get him on the field and try to find someone who could cover.
It didn’t go well. Quarterbacks had a 126.4 passer rating targeting Ballentine, and he surrendered 4 touchdowns in 42 targets.
Watching opposing offenses gleefully target Ballentine during the second half of the 2019 season it was apparent that he wasn’t anywhere to being up to the task of covering NFL slot receivers.
It probably didn’t help that the shooting caused Ballentine to miss practice time in the spring. What might really help Ballentine heading into his second season is an opportunity to move back to the outside.
He may have that now. Obviously, we don’t know how the Baker situation is going to play out. It is at least possible that Baker never plays for the Giants again. That likely leaves Ballentine and Beal competing for and perhaps sharing cornerback reps opposite James Bradberry.