Ballin' Is A Habit

Barring a free agent signing, Ball is the favorite to start at free safety.

interceptions in that time.

If Atogwe remains in St. Louis or the Cowboys decide they don't need him, Ball will remain the favorite to win a job over the likes of Mike Hamlin and Pat Watkins. It is his competitiveness, in large part, that makes the Cowboys believe Ball can become a successful starter. Secondary coach Dave Campo says he treats each practice rep as if it were the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. Maybe that intensity will come in handy. The Cowboys would like to think they'll be playing in that game this year, and how could anyone really feel worse knowing the last line of defense is Ball, not Williams.

No, Ball isn't the burly big-hitter, Ronnie Lott-type safety that Williams was when the Cowboys made him the No. 8 pick in the draft in 2002. But that player is an endangered species. As the NFL shades more and more toward the passing game, the contact-first safety will become a complete thing of the past. It's happening already.

Players like Ball are a part of that movement. For the Cowboys defense to take the next step, they need to be ahead of the curve.

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