On April 28, Corey Ballentine was in a Kansas hospital recovering from a gunshot wound and mourning the death of his best friend.
On Tuesday, exactly one month later, he was on the field with the Giants participating in full team reps at an OTA workout. It was the latest step in the return to football for the sixth-round draft pick, a journey that has gone at a respectful pace but also with astonishing speed.
It was just a week ago that Ballentine was not even outdoors with the team during the start of OTAs. Then he started doing some work with trainers, some individual drills, all of which led to Tuesday’s debut in 11-on-11 snaps. The cornerback lined up with the third-string defense, his performance unremarkable except for the backstory from the past 30 days.
“He’s doing what he can do,” Pat Shurmur said. “He looked good moving around and he’s getting better each day.”
Ballentine stretched and went through drills early in practice and spent most of the workout as a spectator. It wasn’t until late in the on-field portion of the event that Ballentine lined up with teammates for the first time.
Ballentine was shot near the campus of Washburn University in Topeka, and he suffered an injury to his glute. His roommate and teammate Dwane Simmons was shot and killed in the same incident. Police said the two football players were innocent victims who found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. No arrests have been made.
Ballentine has not spoken publicly since the shooting, which took place just hours after he was drafted.
Notes & quotes: Saquon Barkley had 352 touches last season, second in the NFL. This season, without Odell Beckham Jr. on the team, that number could go even higher. And Barkley is OK with that. “I don’t think any number is too high for me personally,” the running back said. “As long as I take care of my body, my body will take care of me . . . Whether it is 350 touches, 400 touches, or less touches next year, whatever I have to do to have this team compete for a championship, I am going to do.” . . . Antoine Bethea played in James Bettcher’s defenses in Arizona, but when he watched the Giants play the schemes last year, the safety seemed to think that the coordinator’s fingerprints were missing. “Playing in this system, you just have to know the feel of the defense,” he said. “If you are not comfortable making certain calls, you’re not going to make those calls. I think the guys being in their second year in the scheme, I think everybody is now comfortable. We’ll see how the season goes.” . . . The Giants practiced through a passing rainstorm Tuesday rather than move the workout into the fieldhouse. “We played in the rain a lot last year,” Shurmur said. “It’s important.”