Jets Claim Ex-Giants CB Not Fined for Illegal Eagles Hit

Giants CB Corey Ballentine pegged as a surprise starter

Getty Corey Ballentine of the New York Giants

It may have been a bit awkward to see Corey Ballentine on the kick-return unit this week. Luckily, the Eagles won’t have to worry about that problem after the free-agent cornerback signed with the Jets. Ballentine, who was released by the Giants on Tuesday, was responsible for the first illegal hit that injured DeSean Jackson on Oct. 22.

Good thing because Jackson’s teammates might have been gunning for retaliation. The 24-year-old was flagged 15 yards for “lowering his head to initiate contact” in Week 7 when he popped Jackson in the head on a fourth-quarter punt return.

That hit wasn’t the one that fractured Jackson’s ankle and put him on the shelf for six to eight weeks. No, that vicious blow came from rookie Madre Harper who wasn’t penalized or fined for driving his body into Jackson and twisting his right leg.

Harper has seen 116 total snaps (37 on defense, 79 on special teams) in 2020. He will be on the field this week when the Eagles travel to the Meadowlands. Ballentine, a sixth-round pick in 2019, played in nine games this season (two starts) and had 16 tackles for the Giants. He tallied 249 total snaps (107 on defense, 142 on special teams).

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Eagles Take High Road on Illegal Hits

There was much scuttlebutt after the play, especially after the NFL ruled that no suspensions or fines would be handed out. Eagles head coach Doug Pederson immediately took the high road.

“Well, listen, it’s not my place publicly to comment on that,” Pederson told reporters on Oct. 23. “It’s a play we’ll turn into the league. Obviously, they flagged it, the officials got it right in the game. It’s unfortunate because of the injury. That’s something that’s in the league’s hands. If there’s any ramifications, it will come down from them. Not my place to comment on that.”

Ditto for Eagles special-teams coordinator Dave Fipp.

“In terms of the hit and all that, I think some people are talking about that,” Fipp said. “Obviously, I’m going to stay away from that myself personally but yeah, disappointed in the injury there for sure.”

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Harper Started on Raiders Practice Squad

Harper may be a marked man (No. 45) heading into Sunday’s pivotal NFC East showdown between the Giants and Eagles. Jackson won’t be out there for Philly but keep an eye on linebackers Duke Riley, T.J. Edwards, Alex Singleton for possible retribution. They are forces to be reckoned with on the Eagles’ special-teams unit.

The Giants rookie cornerback never publicly commented on the late hit, but head coach Joe Judge didn’t seem too happy about the play. Harper, an undrafted rookie out of Southern Illinois, started the year on the Raiders practice squad before the Giants poached him on Sept. 29.

“I talked to [Harper] in the locker room,” Judge told reporters on a conference call. “I’ll keep that conversation between me and him right now. Anything we have to correct, we will.”

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