Free-agent Ball: Rocker wants me here
Defensive end promises to be a position of transition for the Titans in the coming season, since Jason Babin and Dave Ball are unrestricted free agents and Jacob Ford will either be a restricted or unrestricted free agent – depending on the rules that get put in place.
In addition, the Titans drafted three defensive linemen – at least one of whom (Karl Klug) could play defensive end – and have talked about moving defensive tackle Jason Jones to end at times.
But despite all the potential upheaval, Ball says he remains optimistic about returning to the Titans next season.
He finished last season with a career-best seven sacks, but was limited to 11 games because of a hip injury and concussion that landed him on injured reserve in mid-December.
"I talked to (new defensive line coach Tracy Rocker) when I had the opportunity and he said he wants me here," Ball said last week. "We’ll wait and see. Hopefully I’ll be here."
Asked if he was concerned that the Titans’ drafting of three defensive linemen could impact his return, Ball said, "I don’t think so. It seems like most of them are defensive tackles. We’ve only got one `tweener’ there. I think they like me, so hopefully they’ll keep me on."
Ball said the longer the lockout lasts, the more likely it is that veterans will have a leg up on rookies when it comes to competing for jobs.
"Depending on the lockout (length), it’s hard to see whether any of (the rookies) will be able to get in and get acquainted to playing in the NFL," Ball said. "If it’s going to be a long lockout, then it’s going to be tough for rookies to come in and make an immediate impact, but we’ll see."