EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Tom Coughlin was in no mood to be noble toward the New England Patriots for plucking injured tight end Jake Ballard off the waiver wire.

Ballard, coming off ACL and micro-fracture surgery and likely unavailable for action until 2013, was claimed shortly before Tuesday’s opening workout of Giants minicamp, a day after he was waived because of a failed physical. It was the Giants’ intention to re-sign him and eventually place him on injured reserve, where he would continue rehabilitation and anticipate a full recovery next season.

But the Patriots beat them to it, leaving Coughlin displeased with the entire situation Wednesday.

“Discouraged is a minor description,” Coughlin said. “Very disappointed.”

When it was suggested that the Giants might just have kept their top pass-catching tight end from last season on the 90-man roster to ensure keeping his contract rights, Coughlin shot back, “Don’t ask me those questions. I don’t have the answer for you.”

What was depicted as a “calculated risk” by New England in taking a fearless tight end who caught 38 passes for 604 yards and four touchdowns last year was being viewed in some quarters as a vindictive move by Patriots Coach Bill Belichick. Of course, New York defeated New England in the Super Bowl twice in the past five years, and Belichick, a former defensive coordinator for the Giants, did not get the head coaching position with New York in 1992 when Bill Parcells stepped down.

The Giants had hoped to keep Ballard around to compete with Bear Pascoe. Newly acquired Martellus Bennett, fourth-round draft pick Adrien Robinson and first-year player Christian Hopkins are also training camp hopefuls, while Travis Beckum anticipates a return from ACL surgery in time for the regular season.

Coughlin would not have had Ballard for 2012, but that didn’t lessen his feelings on the situation. In the end, though, he had to admit that the Patriots did nothing outside the rules, except perhaps those of front-office etiquette.

“I don’t think there’s any question about that part of it,” Coughlin said. “Whatever the options are based on what the rules are, based on the procedural circumstance, all is fair.”

Belichick, after New England’s second minicamp session Wednesday in Foxborough, Mass., wasn’t concerned with etiquette.

“There are no unwrittens,” he said. “You can’t negotiate a contract with a player while he’s under contract. You can’t negotiate a contract, release him, then renegotiate another contract with him that was already done in advance. I’m sure the Giants weren’t doing that. (When) a player is on waivers, he’s on waivers — ours or anybody else’s.”

A reporter brought up the fact that Belichick was upset when the Vikings claimed tight end and long snapper Garrett Mills in similar fashion.

“I don’t know what unwrittens you’re talking about,” Belichick said. “Anytime you put a player on waivers, you know there’s 31 teams out there that can take them if they want him. We all know that.

“There’s no secrets about that.”

Belichick invited former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa and Chicago Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau to a minicamp session, and despite the rain and wind of a mid-June day in Massachusetts, they both accepted.

Belichick, a frequent attendee to Celtics games, met Thibodeau when he was the defensive coach for Doc Rivers in Boston. 

BENGALS: Linebacker Dontay Moch was suspended for the first four games of the season because he violated the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. 

LIONS: Running back Mikel Leshoure was suspended for two games without pay and will have to give up two more game checks for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.

Leshoure pleaded guilty to marijuana possession in May after police discovered him with pot in his mouth during a traffic stop in southwestern Michigan. That happened on March 12, less than a month after police in a different Berrien County community say they caught Leshoure with marijuana. 

STEELERS: Pittsburgh signed former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Brandon Johnson.

The 29-year-old Johnson spent the last four seasons in Cincinnati, where he played 58 games — including 12 starts — recording a career-high 79 tackles in 2008. Johnson was originally drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the fifth round of the 2006 draft. Johnson gives the Steelers needed veteran depth at linebacker. 

JETS: Tim Tebow, New York’s backup quarterback, said he weighs 249 pounds — about 7 to 9 pounds heavier than last season. He said that the team would like him to be at 250 to start the season.

Tebow wants to be “strong enough to do anything” without compromising his speed and agility. The Jets plan to use him in various roles, including in the wildcat-style offense and on special teams as the punt protector.

He will mainly serve as the backup to Mark Sanchez, but did take two snaps with the first-team offense near the end of practice. Tebow said there was no special significance to the snaps. 

COLTS: Fans got a glimpse of their future, and Andrew Luck got a taste of how challenging the transition from Peyton Manning could be.

When the No. 1 overall draft pick walked off the field after a two-hour practice at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, he was surrounded by reporters and then signed autographs for hundreds of fans stuffing placards, posters and footballs in his face. Some were dressed in Manning jerseys.

The new franchise quarterback embraced the whole scene.

“It’s great, a lot of energy. This was definitely the most fans I’ve practiced in front of and I think it got better as practice went on,” Luck said.

The Colts billed the public workout as a chance for potential ticket-buyers to get an up-close look at the views from seats that remain unsold.

In reality, most of the estimated 7,500 fans showed up for one reason: To see Manning’s replacement throw passes for the first time in a Colts uniform.

Luck was throwing to receivers such as Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie and Donnie Avery.

He wound up completing 26 of 37 passes when Indianapolis’ revamped defense was on the field, drawing loud cheers when he hooked up with Collie for a TD pass near a sideline. Three incompletions were spikes during a two-minute drill.

Fans weren’t interested in the numbers, though. They just wanted to see if Luck could live up to the hype of being dubbed the most NFL-ready quarterback since Manning entered the league in 1998.