Alan Ball Days Until Chicago Bears Season Opener
The NFL season officially begins three weeks from today when the Patriots and Steelers play the first real football game since February. We’re getting close. The Bears meanwhile start their 2015 campaign on the first Sunday of the NFL regular season calendar, 24 days from now. Continuing our Countdown to Kickoff series today in light of our ever-shrinking proximity to the opener, we’re profiling #24 for the Bears: cornerback Alan Ball.
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On March 15, 2015 the Bears signed the eight-year veteran to a one-year deal to provide depth and competition at the cornerback position. Standing at 6’2″, Ball is the tallest corner on the roster with rookie Qumain Black, Sherrick McManis and Al Louis-Jean all measuring an inch shorter at 6’1″.
Size isn’t everything, but Ball also brings a physicality that perhaps no other corner on the Bears can match. Some early roster predictions (mine included) had Ball slotted as a starting corner opposite Kyle Fuller with Tim Jennings manning the nickelback. Whether or not that comes to fruition remains to be seen and Ball’s participation in the first preseason game, like many other veterans, was limited.
Sep 7, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Alan Ball (23) intercepts a pass in the end zone against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey G. Pittenger-USA TODAY Sports
Against the Dolphins, Ball was credited with one pass defended but was otherwise absent from the box score. Attempting to draw roster conclusions at this stage of the preseason is a fool’s errand, however, so for now it’s still very much a situation where we’re waiting to see what Ball can do in a Bears uniform.
By all accounts he has the physical tools to play the style of man-coverage that Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio prefers, but it’s risky to assume Ball will immediately hold down a starting gig when considering his somewhat limited history as a starter. In his eight-year career he has started more than three games in a season just three times.
Ball started all 16 games at free safety for the Dallas Cowboys back in 2010 and 15 games at corner for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2013. In 2014 Ball was in his second-straight year of starting corner duties with the Jags before a triceps injury in the seventh game landed him on injured reserve and ended his season. Aside from veteran corner Tracy Porter (and excluding Fuller and Jennings), the other hopefuls for the Bears at cornerback have a combined starting experience of just three games.
What To Expect From Alan Ball In 2015:
Looking at it from the perspective of who he’s competing against and their overall lack of experience, Ball would certainly seem to have a leg up on most of them to make the roster and possibly earn a starting position. Ball also has special teams experience, a factor that always helps this time of year. The Bears signed him amid his longest stretch of consecutive starts (22 before getting hurt), so maybe heading into his ninth year is the right time to add him to the roster? We can hope, at least.
Throw in the Fangio-factor and there is reason for optimism that Ball is a player that could make an impact on the 2015 Bears defense. If the combination of Ball’s veteran savvy and Fangio’s defensive wizardry mix well together, the end result could be one Bears fans are happy with. With any luck, we’ll get our first extended look at Ball this Saturday against the Colts.
Next: Who Will Start For Bears Defense In 2015?