GLENDALE, Ariz. – Experience.
It’s what cornerback Alan Ball provides and what the Arizona Cardinals lack at the position.
Nine years Ball has played in the league, most recently with Chicago where he played 15 games, including three starts last season.
However, he was without a team until the Cardinals called this week.
“He’ll come in and give us great competition because he’s a real bright guy. He’s a pro. He’s got length; kind of fits what we like to do,” head coach Bruce Arians said.
Ball, listed at 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, worked out for the Cardinals prior to Thursday’s practice and signed shortly thereafter. He practiced for the first time Friday.
The workout, which Arians described as great, was Ball’s first with any team this offseason, though he said his agent had been fielding phone calls.
The wait may have been worth it, however. It allowed Ball to get healthy. He dealt with a groin issue last season, and in 2014 his season ended early due to a torn bicep.
“I think it’s a blessing. For me, I think, it gave me some time over the offseason to really get my body where my body needed to be. I’m as healthy as I can feel. I really feel like myself,” said Ball, who began his career with Dallas as a seventh-round (237th overall) selection in the 2007 NFL Draft out of Illinois.
“The call always comes at the right time,” he continued. “I’m blessed, and God knows how to work and the call came at the right time like I said.”
After five seasons in Dallas, Ball spent a year in Houston and two in Jacksonville before joining Chicago.
“Played against him in Jacksonville a couple of years ago and was always impressed with him,” Arians said.
Over his career, Ball has played in 108 games, which immediately makes him the most experienced cornerback on the roster. Of the 11 others, five are rookies, including third-round pick Brandon Williams, who works opposite Patrick Peterson with the first-team defense.
Factor in the injuries to Justin Bethel (foot) and Mike Jenkins (hand), and the Cardinals perhaps needed some veteran help in the cornerbacks’ room.
“I haven’t really focused on that,” said Ball, who has started 47 games and has six career interceptions with 37 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. “For me, right now, it’s trying to get in that playbook and see how I can help and get out there today and just see how I feel and see what I can help this team do. That’s always big, coming in as a vet—or anybody coming in at this point—just seeing, especially on a team like this, you just got to see how you can fit and see what they need and see how you can adjust and fit in their scheme.”
Arians mentioned the Cardinals may eventually look at playing Jenkins some at safety. For now, however, he’s strictly a corner.
Ball may be a late arrival to training camp, but he arrives on a team with Super Bowl aspirations.
Ball’s playoff resume is four games. He’s not reached the postseason since 2012.
“From afar, it was pretty impressive,” Ball said of Arizona’s run to the NFC Championship in 2015. “But just being here in the couple of hours that I have been, I see how they put that together. I’m happy to be a part of it going forward. Any way I can come in and compete; that’s all I want to do is just add a competitive presence to what’s going on because, like I said, they have a lot of things going on already with or without me so if I can come in and add a competitive presence, that’s what I want to do.”
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